Bears Take Second Place at Pac-10 Championships

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Although the Cal women's swimming team did not have a repeat performance at this year's Pac-10 championships, what the team did bring home from Long Beach, Calif., was something to be proud of.

"I was talking to Erica (Dagg) before the meet, and we were predicted for a fourth place finish," junior Hannah Wilson said. "I said, 'No way are we going to get fourth. We are better than that.'"

Day one of the four-day meet resulted in two of the Bears' fastest times this season in the 200-yard medley relay and the 800-yard freestyle relay. Both quartets finished with times that qualified for NCAA consideration times and put Cal at third at the end of the night.

On the second day, senior co-captain Lauren Boyle garnered the win in the 500-yard freestyle for her first conference title in the event, after taking 11th in the 2009 Pac-10 championships.

"I wasn't expecting to win the 500," Boyle said. "When I started to make my move three quarters of the way through the race, I thought I had a chance. At the last lap, I knew I had it with my two second lead."

Fast swimming in the 400-yard individual medley relay strengthened Cal's grip on second place overall on the third day of the championships. Both Caitlin Leverenz and senior Heather White scored the Bears' fastest times in history in the 400 IM, with Leverenz taking third at 4:06.61.

"We are in one of the fastest conferences," Wilson said. "With Julia Smit (from Stanford) breaking NCAA and American records especially. It was such a high standard meet with great racing."

On the last day of the contest, Cal fought off strong opposition and finished at second place overall behind Stanford and in front of USC.

"When we came under pressure from USC, we really came together as a team and fought them off," said Boyle.

Wilson kept Stanford at bay with her first place title win in the 100-yard freestyle.

"In the middle, I was ranked first," Wilson said. "I knew I wanted to beat the Stanford girls to the wall. I didn't turn first at the 50-yard mark, but I still thought I could do it."

Assistant coach Kristen Lewis-Cunnane was also pleased with the 100-free performance from Wilson.

"Hannah's win on the last night put an exclamation mark on everything," Lewis-Cunnane said.

Coaches and players agreed that the second place finish reflected well on the Bears' ability to front their strength against some of the nation's fastest swimmers.

"We are lucky to be in the Pac-10 with such elite teams," Lewis-Cunnane said. "To compete with those teams really reveals to us the things that we need to work on for NCAAs."


Contact Kelly Suckow at [email protected]

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