The 2023 NCAA Division I Women’s Championships kicked off on Monday with the Cal Women’s swim team making an impressive start to the event. The team, which has been under a rebuilding phase following the exit of head coach Teri McKeever and their best swimmer Izzy Ivey, has defied expectations and has already demonstrated its potential to upset top-seeded UVA for the NCAA title.
The Dave Durden Taper is Hitting
Under new head coach Dave Durden, who has been at the helm of a successful Cal men’s team for a long time, the Cal women have surpassed all expectations. The team has shown significant improvements, with a drop of 0.65 seconds from their entry time of 1:35.40 in the 200 medley relay, ranking sixth in the event with a time of 1:34.75. Cal also impressed in the 800 free relay, finishing fourth with a final time of 6:57.08, an improvement from their 6:58.62 seed time.
With the Cal men’s success carrying over to the women, speculation abounds as to how big the Durden effect will be. Will Cal upset top-seeded UVA for the NCAA title, and can they outscore Stanford to become the best team in the Pac-12? Will Isabelle Stadden sweep the backstroke events? Will Rachel Klinker, who finished 16th in the 50 free, reveal her hidden talent as a golfer? While the answers to these questions may be a hard “no,” the Cal Women’s swim team has made their mark on the 2023 NCAA Division I Women’s Championships.
Bow Down to the Relay Goddesses: Zoie Hartmann, Aimee Canny, and Lexi Cuomo
While the Cal Women’s swim team has shown impressive performance throughout the event, relay stars Zoie Hartmann of Georgia, and Aimee Canny and Lexi Cuomo of UVA deserve recognition. Cuomo’s time of 22.10 on the fly leg was the fastest in the field for her stroke, and allowed UVA to catch up to NC State after trailing them by half a second at the 100-yard mark in the 200 medley relay. Had Cuomo replicated her split from last year, Kate Douglass would have had to make up 0.67 seconds on her anchor, increasing the pressure on UVA and potentially costing the team an NCAA record.
Canny led off the 800 free relay in a time of 1:42.34, just 0.06 seconds behind Stanford’s Torri Huske, which put UVA in a position to take the lead. She was a crucial player in UVA’s upset win against Stanford, with only Alex Walsh being fast enough to challenge the Cardinal last year.
Finally, Hartman, who carried Georgia’s 800 free relay on her back for the second straight year, clocked the fourth-fastest rolling split of the field with a 1:42.50 anchor in the second heat of the 800 free relay. Her efforts helped Georgia to an eighth-place finish in the event.