Women's Swimming: Bears Eager for Challenge Against Bulldogs





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For a team that has a number of competitors that have competed on the world's biggest stage, an early November meet seems like no big deal.

But if you're a freshman who has never competed in a big-time college road meet, you might have reason to be pumped up.

Especially if the team you're facing is Georgia, the NCAA runner-up last season and the NCAA champion the three seasons prior to last.

"I'm really excited for the full team to travel," freshman Helen Silver said. "The energy we had on deck in Dallas (at last weekend's meet) was amazing."

The entire squad will be together in Athens, Ga. this weekend to take on Georgia tomorrow and Clemson Saturday.

Last weekend, the Bears split their squad, winning the Pacific Invitational in Stockton and finishing second at the Southern Methodist Classic in Dallas.

This season, the Bulldogs are 2-0, with victories over North Carolina (177-118) and Kentucky (148-90).

According to coach Teri McKeever, it's no accident Georgia is on Cal's early-season slate.

"We definitely had a purpose in scheduling them," McKeever said. "This will be a really tough meet, with the travel and facing one of the top programs in the country."

The Bears see this weekend's match as an early-season barometer to measure how the team stacks up against one of the nation's elite programs.

"If you want to be the best, you have to go up against the best," McKeever said.

Last weekend at the SMU Classic, junior Natalie Coughlin continued her tremendous college career by winning the 100-yard backstroke, 200 back, 100 butterfly and 200 fly en route to winning the High Point Swimmer award.

Senior Staciana Stitts won the 100 breaststroke and finished second in the 200 breast.

The standout at the Pacific Invitational was Amy Ng. The sophomore captured the High Point award by winning the 200 and 400 individual medley, and the 200 back.

Looking ahead to Georgia, Silver, who was on Cal's victorious 400 medley relay team in Dallas, puts the race in the broader perspective of the whole season.

"This is a preseason meet," Silver said, "For this particular meet, my goals are to just get racing experience and to try out something I've been working on in practice."

As far as the team is concerned, Silver said that the goal is "as a team, to step up against Georgia. We have the ability to compete with them."

After the Bulldogs, the Bears will take on Clemson Saturday. The Tigers are currently 1-1 under new coach Christopher Ip.

The Tigers have not failed to finish in the top four of the Atlantic Coast Conference the past eight seasons.

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