200 yard medley relay
Cal started off the meet with an explosive 1:35.62 from their 200 yard medley relay. This is the fastest time in the country this season by more than half-a-second, and makes Cal serious NCAA contenders in this race. Cindy Tran really came into her own in this race with a backstroke split of 23.71. USC made up a lot of ground on the breaststroke, thanks to a 26.87 split from freshman Kasey Carlson, but gave the race away on the freestyle. The Trojans have known that this final leg of the medley would be their Achilles’ heel. Joan Simms had a fantastic mark for her, in 22.59, but Liv Jensen was incredible in 21.42 seconds to give Cal an easy win. the Trjoans touched second in 1:37.11.
An otherwise great race was marred by two DQ’s from the conference’s southernmost members: Arizona and Arizona State. The Sun Devils touched in 1:37.60, and Arizona finished in 1:38.23. That time is well off of their season best, but they did choose to sit out their best sprinter, Margo Geer, from this relay. Because of the DQ, this ended up being a very wise decision, because she will be able to compete in all four legal relays to help the Wildcats fight back to a top-4 finish.
Arizona State reswam the race in a time-trial and touched in 1:38.31, which should be good enough to get them to NCAA’s. This is good news for the Sun Devils, because they will have an opportunity to surprise some people with the quality of their relay. Not to be overlooked was a 21.80 free split from Stanford’s Sam Woodward; the Cardinal were third overall in 1:38.61 after all of the dust settled.
800 yard freestyle relay
This race seemed sure-fire to have at least one squad under the 7 minute mark, and definitely looked like it would have multiple NCAA Automatic Qualifying times. Surprisingly though, only Cal made an “A” cut with a mark of 7:00.75. This eclipsed Texas’ times earlier in the night for third-best in the country this year. Sara Isakovic showed sparks with a 1:44.04 on the third leg for the Golden Bears. Her success is going to be one of the keys at both this meet and in March.
Though overall the relay times fell a little short of expectations, there were still some impressive individual times. The greatest among these was a 1:44.04 flat-start from Katinka Hosszu. This is more than half-a-second faster than her time from USA-Swimming Short Course Nationals in December. This is significant because many of the times that were put up there (including a 4:00 400 IM) were presumed to be on nearly a full taper. This means that she’s still getting faster than those impressive times, and we could see some fireworks later on in this meet.
Stanford was second in the race in 7:02.19 (led by Maya DiRado in 1:44.120), and USC was third in 7:03.00.
Cal looks very good early on in this meet. The two medley DQ’s have warped the scoring a little, and expect both Arizona and Arizona State to rise in the standings on day 2. Still, neither will be able to fully recover, given that the Pac-10 gives relays a much higher value than other conferences. Coming away from those with zero points is hard to recover from.
Stanford looks like they’ve possibly had a paradigm shift after a lot of turnover in their program. Thus far, they don’t appear as rested for this meet as they have been in the past. Only two races in, it’s hard to say this for certain, but it’s a development to keep an eye on.
1. Cal 128
2. Stanford 110
2. USC 110
4. UCLA 102
5. Washington State 94
5. Oregon State 94
7. Arizona 52
8. Arizona State 48