Stacked Card Houses 2010 Big Swim on Saturday

Photo: Cal senior Lauren Boyle set her personal record in the 1,000-yard freestyle at Stanford's Avery Aquatics Center two seasons ago.
Justin Gonzaga/File
Cal senior Lauren Boyle set her personal record in the 1,000-yard freestyle at Stanford's Avery Aquatics Center two seasons ago.

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The Big Swim matchup between the Cal women's swimming team and Stanford will be a contest of some of the nation's elite athletes.

After a week off from the fast-paced dual meet season, the No. 5 Bears take on the No. 4 Cardinal on Saturday at 1 p.m., at the Avery Aquatics Center in Palo Alto, Calif.

Stanford features a talent-loaded lineup led by seniors Julia Smit and Elaine Breeden.

Smit, a three-time NCAA champion, is currently defending her titles in both the 200- and 400-yard individual medleys and holds this year's best times in both events. Breeden, a two-time NCAA champion, is looking to defend her title in the 200-yard butterfly.

"Stanford has an amazing team," Cal sophomore sprinter Liv Jensen said. "Julia and Elaine are widely considered to be among the best swimmers in the country."

Despite the week off from competition, the Bears took advantage of time to regroup and fine tune in practice.

"We hit it pretty hard this week," junior Katie Kastes said. "We are getting some good training in so that we feel good with Stanford. We did some stuff that we hadn't been doing since the beginning of the season-working on technique, endurance and going harder in a different way than we had been."

For Kastes, a junior transfer from Arkansas, this will be her first exposure to the deeply rooted rivalry with the Cardinal.

"I want to stand up and do my best for the team," she said. "I want to get my hand on the wall first and get the points."

Jensen had an excellent performance last year against Stanford, highlighted by a win in the 50-yard free with which she set both a pool record and a personal record.

"Thinking about where I was last year and trying to focus on where I am now, this year could be completely different," Jensen said. "I would love to do as well as I did last year."

On both sides, there seems to be equally matched contenders in all lanes. Sophomore Sara Isakovic will most likely swim in the 200-yard freestyle against Stanford's Kate Dwelley, with both swimmers ranking among the nation's best performers in the event.

In the relays, arguably the area where the Bears possess their greatest strength, there will be stiff competition. Cal and Stanford are tied for the 10th-ranked 200-yard medley relay team in the nation.

"I have to be honest in saying that Stanford is the best dual-meet team in the nation," assistant coach Kristen Lewis-Cunnane said. "We cannot be concerned about a win or a loss, but on focusing on what are good times for us and how we are doing as a team."


Contact Kelly Suckow at [email protected]

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