Cal Women Break 6-Year-Old Pac-12 Meet Record in 200 Medley Relay Upset of USC

by Riley Overend 1

February 28th, 2024 College, News, Pac-12, Records


The Cal women wasted no time making history at the last-ever Pac-12 Championships, breaking their own 200 medley relay meet record from 2018 in an upset of top-seeded USC in the opening event on Wednesday night.

Cal senior Isabelle Stadden (23.64 backstroke), senior Jade Neser (26.24 breaststroke), and junior Mia Kragh (22.42 butterfly) put the Bears ahead of the Trojans by .29 seconds heading into the freestyle anchor leg. Then Cal junior Stephanie Akakabota stepped up when it mattered most with a 21.59 free split, outdueling USC fifth-year Vasilissa Buinaia (21.93) to clinch the win with a time of 1:33.89.

The Bears knocked almost a quarter of a second off their six-year-old Pac-12 Championships meet record of 1:34.13, which was just .03 seconds shy of the NCAA record at the time. That 2018 relay featured a pair of U.S. Olympians in Kathleen Baker and Abbey Weitzeil.

Pac-12 Championship Meet Records, Splits Comparison

Cal, 2018 – 1:34.13 Cal, 2024 – 1:33.89
Kathleen Baker (23.59 backstroke) Isabelle Stadden – 23.64
Abbey Weitzeil (26.58 breaststroke) Jade Neser (26.24 breaststroke)
Noemie Thomas (22.74 butterfly) Mia Kragh (22.42 butterfly)
Amy Bilquist (21.22 freestyle) Stephanie Akakabota (21.59 freestyle)

Stadden was within a tenth of her personal-best 23.57 from NCAAs last year. Neser got the better of Trojans star breaststroker Kaitlyn Dobler (26.50) by a couple tenths in an impressive performance for the South African standout.

USC seniors Caroline Famous (23.73 back) and Anicka Delgado (22.36 fly) joined Dobler and Buinaia on the Trojans’ runner-up relay that touched the wall in 1:34.52. USC has been as fast as 1:34.07 this season at the Texas Invitational in November.


  • NCAA record: 1:31.51, Virginia – 2023 NCAA Championships
  • Pac-12 record: 1:33.11, Stanford – 2018
  • Meet record: 1:34.13, Cal – 2018
  • NCAA ‘A’ cut: 1:36.24
  • Time to qualify for 2023 NCAAs: 1:36.96

Top 8:

  1. Cal – 1:33.89 *Meet record
  2. USC – 1:34.52
  3. Arizona – 1:36.90
  4. Arizona State – 1:37.50
  5. UCLA – 1:37.68
  6. Washington State – 1:39.79
  7. Utah – 1:40.30

DQ: Stanford – 1:35.67

Sophomore Natalie Mannion (24.53 back), freshman Lucy Thomas (26.58 breast), sophomore Lucy Bell (22.91 fly), and junior Amy Tang (21.65 free) appeared to help the Cardinal to hold off Arizona by just a couple tenths, but Stanford was ultimately disqualified, seemingly on its final leg.

The Wildcats went with Paige Armstrong (24.88 back), Maddy Ahluwalia (27.19 breast), Julia Heimstead (23.11 fly), and Julia Wozniak (21.72 free) for their 3rd-place showing in 1:36.90.

Arizona State junior Erin Milligan had the second-fastest freestyle anchor in the field at 21.65 behind Akakabota’s 21.59. The Sun Devils placed 4th in 1:37.50 just barely ahead of UCLA’s 1:37.68.

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Johnson Swim school
1 month ago

Cal& USC. I see the match up

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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