The Daily Californian Online

Cal Looks to Defend Title At Short Course Nationals

By Connor Byrne
Contributing Writer
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Category: Sports > Winter > Swimming (Women's)

A year removed from winning the same event, the No. 5 Cal women's swimming team looks to defend its title this weekend at the AT&T Short Course National Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

The Bears enter the weekend with a 2-1 duel meet record, including wins over Colorado State and Nevada. Cal's only setback came at home against No. 3 Texas.

Coach Teri McKeever's squad is coming off its strongest performance of the season. On Nov. 20, the Bears came in second at the Arena Invitational, trailing only No. 1 Stanford, who dominated the meet. Cal posted seven NCAA B qualifying times, giving them a total of 16 individual consideration times and four relay times on the year.

At last year's meet, the Bears swept all five relays and edged out USC by 82 points to the take the collegiate team title. The No. 6 Trojans will likely be seeded to finish just slightly behind Cal.

"We have given our athletes a little bit of rest, and they're excited to race some of the best swimmers in the country," assistant coach Kristen Cunnane said. "USC will be there, and they have a really great team this year, so they will be great competition for us."

The Bears will need a strong performance from sophomore Caitlin Leverenz.

After struggling in the Texas meet, the Tuscon, Ariz., native has bounced back with some impressive swims, posting NCAA B times in five individual events. Leverenz had one of her best meets of last season at this event last year, where she broke the school record for the 400 IM with a time of 4:06.69, earning her fourth place in the finals.

Cal's freshmen class has also had major contributions thus far in the season, and has posted three of the Bears' NCAA B times.

"We're really excited to see the freshmen race," Cunnane said. "Also, Amanda Sims has done a really nice job this year and I'm hoping she will have a good meet."

Sims, a senior, played a pivotal role for the Bears in the meet last year. The Santa Rosa, Calif., product swam the fly legs on both winning medley relays, and placed second in the 100 fly, posting a time of 52.96 seconds.

In addition to facing the fastest collegiate swimmers from across the nation, this weekend's meet will feature some of the biggest names in USA swimming, such as four-time Olympic silver medalist Kara Lynn Joyce. The top high school swimmers in the nation will also be competing. Selection for the meet is solely based on qualification times.

"There is going to be a lot of young talent at the meet," Cunnane said. "Some of our future Bears will also be racing and it will be great to see them swim."

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