Defending Champion Cal Heads to Pac-10 Championships

Feb. 23, 2010

On the Pool Deck
Boasting a slew of talented student-athletes from veteran Lauren Boyle to NCAA champion Amanda Sims to freshman sensation Caitlin Leverenz, the fifth-ranked California women look to defend their conference title when they compete in the 2010 Pac-10 Championships this week. The Golden Bears will compete in the Pac-10 Women's Swimming Championships from Feb. 24-27 at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach, Calif., while the Cal divers will compete in the Pac-10 Men's and Women's Diving Championships from Feb. 25-27 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Complex in Federal Way, Wash.

The Bears concluded their 2010 dual-meet season with a 5-2 record (3-2 in the Pac-10).

Last year, Cal scored a school-record 1550 points to win its first Pac-10 team championship. Along the way, former Bear Dana Vollmer (100- and 200-yard freestyles), Boyle (1650-yard freestyle) and the 400- and 800-free relays won conference titles for the Bears.

Pac-10 Championships Schedules and Results
The Pac-1-0 will provide live, streaming video as well as live results, ticket information and more for its women's swimming and men's and women's diving meets on its Web site at the following pages:

http://www.pac-10.org/championships/2010-wswim.html

and

http://www.pac-10.org/championships/2010-diving.html

Following are the swimming and diving schedules for the meets:

Swimming

Day 1, Wednesday, Feb. 24 - 6 p.m.
200 medley relay
800 freestyle relay

Day 2, Thursday, Feb.25
Morning Session - 11 a.m.
Preliminaries/Time Standard Trials
Evening Session - 6 p.m.
500 freestyle
200 individual medley
50 freestyle
200 freestyle relay

Day 3, Friday, Feb. 26
Morning Session - 11 a.m.
Preliminaries/Time Standard Trials
Evening Session - 6 p.m.
400 individual medley
100 butterfly
200 freestyle
100 breaststroke
100 backstroke
400 medley relay

Day 4, Saturday, Feb. 27
Morning Session - 11 a.m.
Preliminaries/Time Standard Trials
Evening Session - 6 p.m.
1650 freestyle
200 backstroke
100 freestyle
200 breaststroke
200 butterfly
400 freestyle relay

Diving

Day 1, Thursday, Feb. 25
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Women's 1M prelims
1:30-2:30 p.m. Men 3M prelims
4-4:30 p.m. Women's 1M final
5-5:30 p.m. Men's 3M final

Day 2, Friday, Feb. 26
11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Men's 1M prelims
1:15-2:30 p.m. Women's 3M prelims
4-4:30 p.m. Men's 1M final
5-5:30 p.m. Women's 3M final

Day 3, Saturday, Feb. 27
10:45-11:45 a.m. Women's Tower Prelims
12:15-1 p.m. Men's Tower Prelims
1:35-2:05 p.m. Women's Tower Finals
2:35-3:05 p.m. Men's Tower Finals

Scouting the Golden Bears
Cal has posted 38 individual NCAA consideration (or NCAA B qualifying) times and one automatic (or NCAA A) qualifying time so far this season. Caitlin Leverenz clocked the automatic qualifier when she set the 400-yard individual medley school record of 4:06.69 to take fourth place in the Short Course National Championship on Dec. 4 in Federal Way.

Sophomore Liv Jensen and junior Hannah Wilson, a 2008 Olympian for Hong Kong, are Cal's top sprinters. Jensen, the 2009 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year, has Cal's best time of the season in the 50 free (22.64, NCAA B); Wilson is the only other Bear with an NCAA B time in the 50 free (22.89) this season. Wilson is Cal's fastest in the 100 free, with an NCAA B time of 49.53, while Jensen is second (49.74, NCAA B). Junior Erica Dagg (49.88), senior Amanda Larson (50.09) and junior Sara Isakovic (50.20) also hold NCAA B times in the 100.

Isakovic, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist in the 200-meter free, is the fastest Bear in the 200-yard free, with an NCAA B time of 1:44.95. Four more Bears -Wilson (1:47.42), Lauren Boyle (1:47.61), Dagg (1:48.63) and Larson (1:48.94) - have clocked NCAA B times in the 200 free.

Boyle, a 2008 Olympian for New Zealand, is Cal's sole returning individual Pac-10 champion, as she won the 1650-yard freestyle in each of the past two seasons. A product of Whenupai, near Auckland, Boyle is Cal's top long-distance swimmer and the school-record holder in the 1650 (9:42.14 set in 2008). She currently holds Cal's fastest time of the season in the 1650 free (16:06.21, NCAA B time) and ranks second on the 2010 Bears with a 500-free time of 4:42.31 (NCAA B). Her 1650 time is the 11th fastest in the nation to this point, while Boyle's 500 time ranks 17th in the nation.

Four other Bears - junior Katie Kastes, Isakovic, sophomore Shelley Harper and senior Blake Hayter - hold NCAA B times in the 500 free. Kastes, the former Arkansas Razorback, is Cal's fastest 500 swimmer with a time of 4:42.03 (16th nationally). Isakovic is third at Cal with a 500 time of 4:44.99, while Harper is fourth (4:47.27) and Hayter is fifth (4:47.72). Isakovic holds the Cal record in the 500 free with a time of 4:36.79 set last season.

In the butterfly events, Amanda Sims has posted Cal's top 100 times so far, with an NCAA-B 52.96. Wilson (53.90, NCAA B) and sophomore Colleen Fotsch (54.08) have also swum NCAA-B times in the 100 fly. Isakovic (1:55.66, NCAA B) and Sims (1:56.30, NCAA B) are 1-2 at Cal in the 200 fly, followed by Leverenz (1:57.57, NCAA B), Kastes (1:57.79, NCAA B) and senior Courtney Eronemo (2:00.48, NCAA B).

Fotsch, who joined Cal this year from Notre Dame, currently claims the Bears' fastest 100 backstroke time (55.10, NCAA B), followed by Dagg (55.28, NCAA B) and freshman Samantha Pearson (56.48). Pearson also holds Cal's fastest 200-backstroke time (2:00.10).

Leverenz holds Cal's fastest times of the season in both breaststroke and both IM events. The Tucson, Ariz. native (1:01.79, NCAA B) and senior Alexandra Ellis (1:01.98, NCAA B) rank 1-2 in the 100 breaststroke. They also currently rank 1-2 in the 200 breaststroke, with Leverenz first (2:11.23, NCAA B) and Ellis second (2:12.03). The freshman's time ranks her second all time at Cal, behind 200-breaststroke record-holder Ellis (2:09.51 set in 2009).

Besides her school record in the 400 IM, Leverenz has posted an NCAA-B time of 1:57.97 in the 200 IM. Cal has three other swimmers with 200 IM NCAA B times: senior Heather White (2:00:56), Kastes (2:00.63) and Eronemo (2:01.75). In the 400 IM, Kastes (4:13.22, NCAA B) and White (4:17.67, NCAA B) rank 2-3 at Cal.

Cal has the Pac-10's fastest time in one of five relays - the 800-free relay, which it has won six straight times at the conference meet - so far this season. The foursome of Leverenz, Boyle, Jensen and Isakovic posted an NCAA B and conference-leading time of 7:07.11 at the Short Course National Championships.

The Cal divers begin their conference championships on Feb. 25. Freshman Kelsey Heiken and sophomore Molly Hayes have arguably Cal's best chances to shine at the Pac-10 meet. Heiken has posted Cal's sole NCAA zone qualifying mark so far, with a score of 284.10 on the three-meter springboard in the Bears' Feb. 14 dual meet at Stanford. The product of San Clemente, Calif. started out the season strong by winning the three-meter springboard (262.58) against Fresno State on Nov. 5 in Berkeley and finishing in the top 10 of both springboard events (8th, 253.75 at 1 meter; 4th, 251.00 at 3 meters) in the Trojan Diving Invitational held from Nov. 6-7 at USC.

Hayes was a major contributor to Cal's upset of then-No. 2 Arizona, 165-134, on Jan. 23 at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bay Area native from Los Gatos, Calif. won both springboard events, collecting a score of 258.63 at one meter and a score of 259.88 at three meters. Cal, which has won the last three 400-free relay titles at Pac-10s, currently holds the third-fastest 400-free relay time (3:17.60, NCAA B; Larson, Dagg, Isakovic, Jensen) in the conference.

Scouting the Field
Probably the strongest conference in the nation, the Pac-10 is the only conference with as many as four teams ranked in the Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America. Besides No. 5 Cal, Stanford is tied with Georgia at No. 1, Arizona is ranked No. 4 and USC is ranked No. 9. No other Pac-10 team is ranked in the coaches' poll.

All three of those conference opponents are threats to Cal's hope of repeating. Stanford, led by 2008 U.S. Olympians Julia Smit and Elaine Breeden, has won 16 Pac-10 team titles and looks to be the biggest threat to the Bears this year. The Cardinal defeated Cal in the Bears' last dual meet on Feb. 13, winning 11 of 16 events. Smit ranks among the nation's fastest swimmers in the nation in the 400 IM (1st, 4:03.31, NCAA A), 200 IM (2nd, 1:55.45, NCAA A), 200 back (3rd, 1:52.83, NCAA A) and 200 free (8th, 1:45.31, NCAA B). She won the 200 and 400 IMs at Pac-10s last season, when Breeden also won both the 100 and 200 flies at the conference meet. Stanford currently leads the conference with the fastest 200-free relay (1:29.22, NCAA B). Junior diver Meg Hostage, who won both springboard events against Cal, was the 2008 Pac-10 champ at three meters.

Fourth-ranked Arizona and No. 9 USC are also dangerous. While Cal upset the then-No. 2 Wildcats, 165-134, on 23 in Berkeley when Arizona was ranked No. 2, then USC upset Cal, 153-147, on Jan. 29 in Los Angeles. Katinka Hosszu was a big contributor for the Trojans in that meet, winning the 200 free. She ranks among the nation's fastest swimmers in the 200 fly (1st, 1:53.37, NCAA A), 400 IM (2nd, 4:04.17, NCAA A), 200 IM (5th, 1:56.11, NCAA A) and 500 free (10th, 4:40.87, NCAA B).

Arizona senior Ana Agy, who won the 100 back against Cal and swam on the Wildcats' 2009 NCAA-winning 400-medley relay, holds the country's third-best time in the 100 fly (52.51, NCAA B) and sixth-best time in the 100 back (52.64, NCAA A). The Wildcats also hold the Pac-10's fastest times in three of five relays: 400-free relay (3:17.07, NCAA B), 200-medley relay (1:38.54, NCAA B) and 400-medley relay (3:34.34, NCAA B).

Next Time
A select group of Bears will swim in a last-chance meet on Feb. 28 in Long Beach to try to qualify for the March 18-20 NCAA Championships in West Lafayette, Ind.

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