2000-01 Cal Women's Swimming Outlook
Dec. 11, 2000
BERKELEY, CA - The California women's swim team placed an impressive fourth in the nation last year, tying the highest NCAA finish ever by a Cal squad. The Golden Bears also won their first-ever national relay titles, capturing the 200 free and 200 medley relays. Under head coach Teri McKeever, the 2000-01 Cal contingent is looking to again be among the nation's elite with a strong nucleus of returnees and the help of a talented freshmen class.
'The potential for us to be one of the top three teams in the nation this season is there,' said McKeever, whose teams have finished in the Top 10 nationally in each of the past four years. 'The challenge will be how quickly our freshmen discover what elite college swimming is all about. We might take some knocks early in the season, but what we need to embrace is all the hard work it is going to take to continue the tradition of success we have established. Quite often it is harder to maintain a tradition than it is to build a tradition.'
The Bears returning base will include six NCAA qualifiers, including 2000 national champions Staciana Stitts and Haley Cope. Stitts, a sophomore breaststroker, is returning from a recent trip to the Sydney Olympics where as a member of the United States 400 medley relay team she earned a gold medal after competing in the prelims. She had qualified for the Olympics after placing second at the Olympic Trials in the 100 breast with a time of 1:07.79. At last year's NCAA championship, Stitts set the American record in the short course 50-meter breaststroke (31.24) on the way to a second place finish in the 100-meter breast (1:06.79), finished third in the 200-meter breast (2:25.02) and swam on Cal's world best 200-meter medley relay.
Senior standout Cope was the 2000 Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year and is the world record holder in the short course 50-meter backstroke (27.25). She finished second in the nation last year in the 100-meter back (59.17) and sixth in the 100-meter fly (59.70), as well as being on both of the winning 200 free and 200 medley relays (backstroke leg) at the 2000 NCAA meet. Cope is also a top freestyler and butterflyer with bests of 23.23 in the 50 free, 49.85 in the 100 free and 53.28 in the 100 fly. She is on the Cal all-time Top 10 list in five different individual events and is on three school record relays.
Two other returning NCAA qualifiers from last season include juniors Lisa Murray (200, 400-meter free) and Alice Henriques (200-meter back). Murray was a member of the Bears 800 free relay that placed fourth at the Pac-10 meet and 10th in the nation last season, and she has the school's fifth-best all-time mark in the 1650 free (16:24.60) and sixth-best mark in the 500 free (4:47.28). Henriques owns the school's sixth-best all-time mark in the 200 back (1:58.85) and 10th-best time in the 100 fly (55.08).
Another pillar for the Bears will be junior Adrienne Mattos, the school record holder in the 50 free (22.76) who took last year off from competition and will once again compete for Cal. Sophomore Andi Finlay also returns after sitting out the 1999-2000 season. Finlay qualified for the NCAAs in the 100 back as a freshman in 1999 and has a best of 55.71.
The Bear freshmen are large in number this year (nine) and are expected to make a big impact as eight of Cal's nine recruits were Olympic Trial qualifiers. Natalie Coughlin was the No. 1 high school recruit in the country last year and competed in the 200 IM and 100 fly at this summer's Olympic Trials. Although Coughlin is capable of swimming numerous events, she is likely to continue competing in IM and butterfly this season for Cal.
Freestyler Danielle Becks is going to be a huge asset for the Bears, as well, providing depth in the relays and freestyle events. Maggie Konstantinova, who qualified for the semifinal heats of the Olympic Trials in both the 100 breaststroke, and Natalie Griffith, world ranked and a Senior National Qualifier in the individual medley events, will be also be top newcomers for Cal.