Division I Meet of the Week: Cal vs Stanford Showdown 1 of 3

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The best women’s swimming rivalry in college renews this week as the Cal and Stanford teams swim their dual meet, the NCAA Division I Meet of the Week.

It is the opening act of a rivalry trifecta that has become the focal point of the women’s season. Cal and Stanford start with a dual meet, then face off at the Pac-12 Championships, with the title likely to be won between the two teams. After that, the two teams head to the NCAA championships, where they have finished 1-2 the past three years.

Last week’s meet of the week

No other rivalry in swimming has that much on the line that many times. What a way to close out the season.

The opening act is the Division I meet of the week, which begins at noon Saturday local time at Stanford.

Cal graduated a huge class last year, but still has some major star power, led by Abbey Weitzeil. She went a stunning 20.90 in the 50 free at the Minnesota Invitational earlier in the season to lower her own NCAA and American record.

Stanford, meanwhile, is led by Brooke Forde and Katie Drabot, who excel in some of the longer events. Forde is the defending NCAA champion in the 500 free and has put together a strong 400 IM. Drabot is among the top swimmers in the country in the 500 free and is coming off of a summer that saw her win bronze at the world championships in the 200 butterfly.

But the dual meet will not be won or lost in those events. Both teams know what the other is capable of in those events.

The Division I Meet of the Week will be won with depth. It might come down to Cal’s Ema Rajic vs. Stanford’s Zoe Bartel in the breaststroke. Or Stanford’s Erin Voss vs. Cal’s Izzy Ivey in the backstroke. Cal’s Alicia Wilson has been swimming extremely well this season. Maybe she challenges Forde in an event.

More likely, is that it won’t come down to the top swimmers in each race at all. It will be about depth. Stanford is full of depth, returning multiple NCAA scorers in a plethora of events.

Cal has plenty of depth, too, but not necessarily in the same places. Stanford’s comes from its distance events, while Cal’s comes from its shorter events — the 200 IM, backstroke events (the Golden Bears run Ivey, Keaton Blovad and Courtney Mykkanen at opponents here, a very powerful dual meet lineup), 100 fly and sprint freestyles.

Then there are the relays, which were Cal’s forte last year — though the Cardinal have never been too far behind.

It is an extremely intriguing matchup each year because the team’s strengths are so different. Then they have to match up again for the Pac-12 meet and NCAAs.

What will the Division I Meet of the Week come down to this year?

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