Bears Use Different Techniques To Their Advantage Against So-Cal Rivals

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Nobody wants to be tied. The point of competition is to find out who's better, who the winner is.

With tied all-time records against the two Los Angeles schools, the Cal women's swimming team set out to prove who's on top.

And succeeded.

The No. 6 Cal women's swimming team spent its weekend trouncing the L.A. schools, defeating No. 10 USC, 165-135, and No. 11 UCLA, 159.5-140.5.

"Things went real well," Bears coach Teri McKeever said. "It's been a tough couple weeks with the training trip, the Arizona meet and school starting. I was very proud of the way we've been able to respond to the challenges."

All told, the Bears (7-1, 5-0 in the Pac-10) won 11 of 16 events against both the Trojans and the Bruins. That's not to say they played the matchups identically, however. USC has been heralded as a distance and stroke program, whilst UCLA tends to feature a stronger sprint squad.

Fortunately, Cal has all three.

Sophomore Natalie Coughlin made her usual waves, winning the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events and the 200 individual medley against the Trojans before completely shifting gears to win the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events against the Bruins.

"I think we were able to swim a lot of our primary events and matched up well against USC," McKeever said. "They're strong in the distance events but Ashley (Witney) did a great job. Danielle winning all the freestyle events was great, too. She's really stepped up into a whole different realm as far as helping the team."

Against the Trojans, sophomore Danielle Becks was Cal's featured freestyler, taking the gold in the 50, 100, and 200 free (23.53, 50.69 and 1:50.35, respectively).

Junior Staciana Stitts won both breaststroke events, while junior Witney took first in the 500 free (4:51.22).

Senior Alice Henriques rounded out the Bears' crowd of individual winners with a gold in the 100 backstroke (55.95).

The Bears' team of Coughlin, Stitts, sophomore Kyoko Yokouchi, and junior Michelle Harper also contributed to the Cal win with a blue-ribbon performance in the 200 medley relay (1:42.73).

Cal's meet against the Bruins the next day saw a lot of the same names. Stitts tied for first place in the 100 breast (1:03.63) and Whitney went the distance again with her victories in the 500 (4:56.39) and 100 (10:07.60) free. Yokouchi swept the backstroke events, winning the 100 in a 56.76 and the 200 in a 2:01.22.

Sophomore Kristen Sissener came up big in the 200 butterfly (2:04.30) and freshman Amy Ng took first in the 400 medley (4:22.64).

The Bears' relays triumphed again as well, as Henriques, Stitts, sophomore Natalie Griffith, and Becks won the 400 medley relay in 3:47.11.

With a perfect conference record and only one loss overall, the Bears have all the momentum they need to challenge their top-ranked rival, Stanford. A little rest would go a long way, however.

"Against UCLA were were a little flat and pretty tired," McKeever said. "We need to take a few days to recharge physically and emotionally. That'll set us up real nicely for another tough competition against Stanford."

The Bears meet the Cardinal at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center Feb. 16 at 2 p.m.


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