Golden Bears Battle USC and UCLA in the Pool this Weekend

Jan. 28, 2009

Berkeley - Just three home dual meets remain for the fourth-ranked California women's swimming team, as the Golden Bears take to the pool this weekend against USC on Friday, Jan. 30 at 1:00 p.m. and UCLA on Saturday at noon.

After competing for the first time in over a month last weekend, the Bears (3-2, 2-1 Pac-10) earned a road split, falling to the Arizona Wildcats and defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Olympic flavor will also be on display in Friday's meet as well. Senior Dana Vollmer won a gold medal in 2004 in Athens as part of the U.S. 800-free relay that set a world record. Hannah Wilson competed in this year's Summer Games and set a new Hong Kong records in the 100 fly and free events. Lauren Boyle qualified for her native New Zealand in this year's Olympics in the 4x200 freestyle relay. USC's Rebecca Soni won three medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, winning gold in the 200-meter breast in a world-record time 2:20.22.

A consistent performer all season, Vollmer continues to show why she is amongst the nation's elite after her performances last weekend. Against defending national champion Arizona, Vollmer claimed three individual victories, including one in the 200-yard freestyle (1:46.90), almost two seconds faster than her teammate Madison Kennedy, who placed second with a season-best 1:48.02. Vollmer then claimed her second victory in the 200-yard butterfly (1:59.09), and scored her third win in the 100-yard butterfly after she clocked a 54.42.

The following day against Arizona State, Vollmer led from start to finish in the 100-yard freestyle with a winning time of 49.79. To top it off, Vollmer grabbed a first-place finish in the 500 free with a time of 4:52.91. She also posted a season-best 23.41 in the 50-yard freestyle and helped her team in the 200-yard medley relay (third leg), as Lauren Rogers, Alexandra Ellis and Kennedy outlasted ASU's foursome with a winning time of 1:43.49.

Vollmer still holds the second-fastest time in the country in the 200 free - 1:43.66 - which is also an NCAA automatic qualifying standard. Vollmer also owns the 11th-fastest time in the 100 free (48.51), the sixth-fastest 100 butterfly time (52.11) and the 10th-fastest 200 fly time (1:56.24).

Cal is also receiving big contributions from its younger stars as well. Sophomore Amanda Sims continues to impress this season, and is really coming into her own under the tutelage of head coach Teri McKeever.

Sims holds the fourth-fastest time in the nation in the 200 fly (1:55.57) and is the only sophomore ranked in the Top 10 in this event.

Sims had a solid weekend at UA and ASU and earned a first-place finish with a time of 2:00.61 in the 200 fly at Arizona State, two seconds ahead of ASU's Aubry Ashton.

Freshman Liv Jensen has shown why she was one of the premier recruits with her sprinting abilities this season. Jensen is one of five freshmen in the country ranked in the Top 25 in the 50 free with a time of 22.63. She collected a win in the in the 200-yard freestyle (against Arizona), posting a 1:50.45. Sophomore Erica Dagg, another young swimmer continuing to impress, touched the wall second (1:52.07), followed by senior Natalie LaRochelle's season-best 1:52.65.

Boyle, the school's record holder in the 1000 and 1650-yard freestyle events, also put together efficient back-to-back dual meets last weekend. Boyle recorded two first place victories at UA and ASU in the 1000 free. Junior Blake Hayter meanwhile notched a season-best 10:08.12 in the 1000 at Arizona.

Another bright spot over the weekend was senior Emily Verdin collecting her first individual victory of the season in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:01.73.

In other news regarding former Golden Bear greats, Olympian and U.S. National Team member Natalie Coughlin was named the 2008 United States Olympic Committee SportsWoman of the Year last week. This was the first time Coughlin received the USOC SportsWoman of the Year honor.

Coughlin made history in 2008, becoming the first American woman in any Olympic sport to win six medals in one Olympic Games. In Beijing, Coughlin set five American records and one Olympic record. She won a gold medal in the women's 100m back, becoming the first woman to win back-back gold medals in the event, claimed two silver medals in the 400m free relay and 400m medley relay, and earned three bronze medals in the 200m IM, 100m free and 800m free relay. Over the course of her career, Coughlin has won 11 Olympic medals in the 11 Olympic events in which she has competed (5 in Athens and 6 in Beijing). In November of 2008, she was named the Female Athlete of the Year at the USA Swimming Foundation's Golden Goggle Awards.

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