Cal Relays Its Way to Title at Short Course Nationals

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When the foursome of senior Amanda Larson, junior Erica Dagg, sophomore Sara Isakovic and sophomore Liv Jensen claimed the last race of the Short Course National Championships, it marked the fifth relay title for the Cal women's swimming team.

Three days in the pool seemed worth the time in Federal Way, Wash., considering the Bears also took home the overall collegiate team title.

"Last year, not everyone was on board at this point in the season," Dagg said. "We did much better than we expected this weekend. There is room for improvement, but I'm really happy where we are."

Dagg was a member of four of Cal's five winning relay teams.

"The relays are so much fun," she said. "It is a different way of stepping it up having three girls surrounding you."

Caitlin Leverenz, the standout freshman from Tuscon, Ariz., was a member of two of the winning relay teams. They were her first wins on a relay team.

"I was standing up on the top podium and turned to look at the other girls and said, 'This is my first medal for a relay!' she said. "I had never done them before college."

She also clocked some of her best individual times to overshadow her disqualification in the 200-yard IM preliminary.

"On one turn I got disqualified," she said. "I pushed off on my back when I should have been on my stomach. I was frustrated not to race against the girls in the final, but it was better to learn now then at NCAAs."

Putting that aside, Leverenz automatically qualified for NCAAs with her 400-yard individual medley time of 4:06.69 that also garnered her a fourth-place finish in the final.

Not only were the Bears able to showcase the talent individually and with their relay teams, but they were also able to take a look at the new talent for the team next year as well as see some old faces.

Cindy Tran, a high school senior from Westminister, Calif., who has already committed to Cal, was what Dagg called "the stud of the bunch" at the meet.

Former stars for the Bears were Madison Kennedy and Dana Vollmer, who won two races in Washington. Members of the 2008 Olympic team were also competitors.

"It was so awesome to race against the high-level Olympic athletes and hang out with them," Leverenz said. "One of my goals is to make the team in 2012 and get the chance to swim and compete against those girls."

Overall, the swimmers ended their last meet until January on a successful note. They will be able to spend some time at home for the holidays before returning on Jan. 1 for training.

"I'm excited to eat a big Christmas dinner with all my family before training starts again," Leverenz said.


Contact Kelly Suckow at [email protected]

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