Cal Opens Season at Cal Poly

Sept. 16, 2009

On the Pool Deck
California returns to action for the first time since winning the 2009 NCAA championship when it takes on Cal Poly in a pentathlon of 100-yard events at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Golden Bears head coach Teri McKeever leads a talent-laden squad, including 100-yard butterfly national champion Amanda Sims and All-Americans Sara Isakovic, Hannah Wilson and Liv Jensen, into the 2009-10 season.

The Bears and Mustangs won't be swimming in a dual meet at Cal Poly on Friday. Instead, each athlete will swim a 100 freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and individual medley. The swimmer with the lowest combined time will be declared the winner.

Bears Ready to Defend NCAA, Pac-10 Titles
Most of the Bears who contributed to the 2009 NCAA and Pac-10 championships return this season. Junior Amanda Sims will lead the way in the butterfly events; besides her 100 fly NCAA title, she posted Cal's best time in the 200 fly (1:53.54) last year. Paving the way in the freestyle sprints are sophomore Liz Jensen, Cal's fastest returner in the 50, and junior Hannah Wilson, the top returning Bear in the 100. Senior Lauren Boyle is Cal's top distance freestyler, while sophomore Sara Isakovic is strong in the 200, 500 and 1650 frees.

Alexandra Ellis, Cal's top breaststroker last year, is back for her final season as is Heather White, Cal's top returning IMer. Most of the relay swimmers are back, including those who formed the 2009 NCAA champion 400- and 800-free relays.

A slew of talented newcomers will join the veterans in the quest to repeat as national and conference champions. Caitlin Leverenz, who won the gold medal in the 200-meter breatstroke in the 2007 Pan-American Games, was arguably the top recruit in the nation last year. She will boslter Cal in the breaststroke and IM events. Laura Evans, a former U.S. junior water polo player, will strengthen the Bears in the IM and backstroke. Samantha Pearson, the 2008 Nevada state champ in the 100 back, is strong in both back events.

Cal also brings in some outstanding transfers in junior Emily Bibb (freestyler from UCLA), sophomore Colleen Fotsch (fly/back; Notre Dame), junior Katie Kastes (fly/free/IM; Arkansas) and junior Katherine Raatz (free; Arizona). All four competed in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Two first-year divers - Rachel Becker and Kelsey Heiken - will join new diving coach Ben Herdt at Cal. Becker earned high school All-America honors in diving and swimming, while Heiken is a four-time diving All-American.

A Look Back at the 2008-09 Championship Season
Last season was the program's best ever. Dana Vollmer had a spectacular end to her college career, as she was named the 2009 NCAA Swimmer of the Year and Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year and won the Honda Sports Award for Swimming.

Cal produced three individual NCAA titles (Vollmer in the 100- and 200-yard freestyles and Amanda Sims in the 100 butterfly), two NCAA relay champions (400- and 800-free relays) and two American records (400- and 800-free relays) and scored a school-record 411.5 points at the NCAA meet.

Nine Bears emerged as All-Americans and two earned honorable mention All-America honors at NCAAs. The Bears also won five Pac-10 titles (Vollmer in the 100- and 200- frees; Lauren Boyle in the 1650 free; and the 400- and 800-free relays). Liv Jensen, earned the Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year accolade.

Next Time
Cal next hosts a dual meet against Pacific at noon on Oct. 10 at Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley. It will be a co-ed meet, as the Cal men will also take on the Tigers.

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