Written by Grace Tramack
I am not personally the most passionate about sports, but when it comes to swimming, I could talk about meet results or race strategies all day long. Which is mainly why my favorite teams to go head-to-head are definitely the Stanford and University of California Berkeley’s (Cal) women’s swim teams. Every year, I sit anxiously waiting in the stands waiting for the meet to start, biting my nails when the finish comes down to one-hundredth of a second, and losing my voice cheering for the two teams. I’ve found, in swimming, the only thing more nerve-wracking than being in the race yourself is being a spectator.
I grew up idolizing Natalie Coughlin, a three-time Olympian with a total of 12 Olympic medals. She swam at Cal from 2001-2003, and continued training with the team even after she graduated. After I was old enough to realize what team she swam for, I starting following their results. With a few Olympians, numerous National Team members and a coach that has successfully been running their team for 24 years, they are one of the top college teams in the country.
However, Stanford also has a strong team, as demonstrated by their 160-point win over Cal at the Women’s Swimming and Diving NCAA’s. They have multiple National Team members, Olympians, and American Record holders as well.
My swim team has made it a tradition to watch this rivalry once every year—at the annual Cal/Stanford dual meet. Our coach, Dana Kirk, swam for Stanford, and our former teammate Jenna Campbell swims for Cal, so each year, we face the difficult decision of who to root for. Usually, like the good Palo Alto residents we are, we show up in Stanford gear, but we have also been know to print out a giant picture of Jenna’s face to show support for our teammate.
Whatever the outcome, the Cal and Stanford women’s swim teams always bring out the best in each other, making the rivalry exciting to watch. For all of the non-swimmers out there, I know this is not Michael Phelps, but if you ever find yourself in the mood to watch some swimming during a non-Olympic year, I highly recommend this annual meet for you.