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Cal Women's Swimming had another top-10 finish at the NCAA
Golden Bears finished 8th as a team in 2022 but picked up an NCAA Record Holder and Canadian Olympian as a graduate transfer
A week before Cal Men’s Swimming won their 7th NCAA team title, Cal Women’s Swimming raced at the same venue in Atlanta. While I did write an update on the first two days of the meet, here is the rest of what happened at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship.
Freshman Leah Polonsky added another All-American Honorable Mention by placing 13th. She had finished 12th in 200y IM.
Scoring points in two individual events on top of racing in three relays, Leah Polonsky was the most valuable freshman on the Cal team.
Cal’s best shot at an NCAA title was thwarted by rival Stanford. Isabel Ivey swam the best 200y Free of the year when she led off the 800y Free Relay on Wednesday night for Cal with a 1:41.35. Ivey swam a 1:41.59 in the 200y Free final on Friday night. That was not enough to catch Stanford’s Canadian Olympian Taylor Ruck, who took the win with a 1:41.12.
Ayla Spitz earned some additional points for the Bears by placing 13th overall.
Isabelle Stadden raced against a strong field in the 100y Back A-Final. Despite a new personal record, the Cal sophomore only placed 7th.
NC State’s Katherine Berkoff set a new NCAA record in winning this event.
Behind only Ivey, Isabelle Stadden was the second-best Cal Bear at the NCAA this year. Beyond the two A-Finals in the backstroke event, Stadden also raced in three relays - the backstroke for the two relays but also 100y Free for the 400y Free relay.
400y Medley Relay
The Bears closed Friday with a 12th place in the 400y Medley Relay. Stadden (back), Polonsky (breast), freshman Mia Kragh (fly), and Ivey (free) combined for the season-best time.
Moving on to Saturday, two Cal Bears were able to make the A-Finals that night.
Isabelle Stadden did a bit better in her best event of 200y Back than in the 100y Back. Her new personal record was enough for 4th place.
Stanford’s USA Olympian Regan Smith won by a sizable margin.
Isabel Ivey scored in her third individual event of the week. After a 3rd in 200y IM and a 2nd in 200y Free, Ivey was only able to qualify for the consolation final for 100y Free.
She helped Cal to 4 more points by placing 13th. Clearly, Isabel Ivey was the Cal MVP in this meet between her individual results and how she raced in 4 relays.
On a weekend where the NCAA record book was often rewritten, Cal junior Rachel Klinker’s personal best was good for 6th place in 200y Fly.
400y Free Relay
After starting the meet with a 7th and a 3rd place in relays, Cal’s overall standing was really hurt by the rest of the relay finishing outside the top-8. Golden Bears closed the meet with a 11th place in the 400y Free.
In the end, Virginia dominated this meet by winning 11 of 18 swimming events. UVA repeated as NCAA champions after winning the program’s first title last year.
Internet’s Big Game Boomer is infamous for making a bunch of often controversial lists. Maybe he’s on to something by comparing Cal to Virginia?
Anyhow, another surprise was how Texas finished ahead of Stanford.
Final 2022 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Team Standing:
NC State 279
Ohio State 165
The 16 Cal Bears at this meet gave their all, and for the 25th consecutive year, Cal has a top-10 finish as a team. However, Cal’s streak of finishing in the top-5 will end at 15 years in a row.
Looking ahead to next year, one would first hope/expect Isabel Ivey to stay at Cal as a 5th year. Ivey graduated high school early to start swimming with Cal, her original class is the seniors next year. Given how Cal swimmers often stay on campus to train in the pro group even after they had graduated, it would not be a stretch to imagine Ivey returning to the team next year with the extra year of eligibility.
One extra incentive for Ivey to return is that Cal just added Canadian Olympian and NCAA Record Holder Maggie Mac Neil as a graduate transfer. Mac Neil has a bit of a down year in 2022, but she set the NCAA record in 100y Fly in 2021. Mac Neil has also been an NCAA champion in 100y Free.
It is not clear in which Master’s program she will be pursuing her degree in at Cal.
I'm so beyond excited to announce that I will be moving out west to finish up my NCAA eligibility. I feel so lucky to be able to pursue a masters degree at the University of California Berkeley, while continuing to swim at the highest level! Happy to be moving away from the snow for this new chapter! Go 🐻! 💙💛
One would think that a major reason for Mac Neil to come to Cal would be to train with a fellow top sprinter in recent alum USA “Calympian” Abbey Weitzeil.
With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight being hosted in San Francisco, Abbey Weitzeil was honored this past weekend at the halftime of the Duke-Arkansas game.