Bears Host Longhorns in Battle of Pool Powers

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The Cal women's swimming and diving team will see its first real set of test of the 2010-11 season this weekend.

The Bears (1-0) will first travel to Stanford, Calif., on Friday to compete in the George Haines Invitational, where they will race against Nevada and co-hosts San Jose State and Stanford. The meet runs through Saturday, but Cal will only be competing on Friday.

Though some of the fastest swimmers in the nation will be at Friday's meet, most of the events are half distance races, and therefore won't indicate how the Bears truly stack up against the other competitors, as they will not be competing in NCAA sanctioned events.

The Bears' real test will come on Saturday, when they play host to Texas in the first meet of the 2010-11 season at Spieker Aquatic Center.

The Bears have had a solid season thus far, defeating Nevada 170-125 in a duel meet on Sept. 17 and boasting strong performances at both the Cal Poly Pentathlon and Cal Poly Relays.

However, Cal hasn't faced any top tier teams thus far. Saturday will also mark Texas's first meet of the season.

"It's a process of getting prepared. We aren't there right now, but every day we get closer and closer," assistant coach Kristen Cunnane said.

Last season, the Bears and the Longhorns met at the NCAA championships in March, where Cal finished third and Texas finished 11th. Both teams were considered to be having rebuilding years and out-performed expectations.

Additionally, Cal standout breastroker Caitlin Leverenz and Texas' Kathleen Hersey have been competing together on the U.S. national team, coached by Cal coach Teri McKeever. The two most recently swam together in August at the Pan Pacific Championships.

Both teams are very familiar with one another, and know exactly the kind of caliber opponent they will be facing on Saturday. The match-up should prove to be highly contested, and could be decided by the outcome of just a few key events.

"Almost every event could go either way, especially the sprint freestyle events. It will be great for our sprinters to face that kind of competition," Cunnane said.

The Bears hope that this season will bring similar results to last year's. Though Cal only has one returning individual NCAA champion (junior Liv Jensen, 50 freestyle), the team believes that it has a legitimate chance to be a contender at next year's NCAA championships.

"We have high expectations for this group, but we are mainly focusing on tuning out the outside expectations. That's why we've been so successful in the past," Cunnane said.

The Bears will have their first shot at living up those expectations on Saturday. A strong showing against Texas will set the Bears well on their to another impressive season.


Contact Connor Byrne at [email protected]

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