It will be the Big Splash for the Stanford women's swim team on Saturday as it hosts rival California in a Pac-12 Conference showdown to end the dual-meet season, and there's something at stake for each team.
For the visiting Bears (7-0), they'll risk their No. 1 national ranking when they take to the starting blocks for the 1 p.m. meet at Avery Aquatic Center. For the Cardinal (8-1), it will be a chance to improve upon its No. 8 ranking while sending its seniors out with a victory.
For each team, it will be a final tuneup before the Pac-12 Championships and a good test before the NCAA Championships.
Stanford won its second-straight Pac-10 title last season, while Cal won the NCAA title. During coach Lea Maurer's six years at Stanford, the Olympian is 4-2 against the Golden Bears. Cal won last year's meeting in Berkeley.
It will be the final home meet for Stanford seniors: Sam Woodward, Betsy Webb, Angela Duckworth, Jamie Bruce and Kerry Kraemer.
Cal sprinter Liv Jensen from Palo Alto High, the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month for January, will have a lot of company from the Cardinal in the fastest events.
In the 100 free, Jensen and Stanford's Maddy Schaefer and Andi Murez are separated by .24 seconds. In the 50 free, Jensen might have the nation's second-fastest time, but Woodward, Schaefer and Webb are all in the top-10 and are part of one of the nation's fastest 200 free relay teams (1:26.20). Stanford also has the second-fastest 400 free relay team.
Cal has the slight advantage in the longer distances with Shelly Harper ranking in the national top-six in the 500 free, with Cardinal sophomore Andie Taylor two seconds behind her at 4:40.64.
In the 200 back, Cardinal sophomore Maya DiRado has the nation's fastest time, at 1:52.57, set back in December. In the 100 back, Cal has two swimmers in the 52 second range and the top-15 in sophomores Cindy Tran and Stephanie Au, while Stanford's Felicia Lee and Webb round out the top-20.
Long known as a strong power in the individual medley with Olympians Summer Sanders and Julia Smit, DiRado is making her own mark in the Cardinal record books. DiRado ranks No. 2 in the 200 yard event (1:54.66) and No. 4 in the longer version, the 400 IM (4:02.06).
Woodward, who ranks No. 2 in the 200 fly with a mark of 52.06, is tops among a veteran field. Woodward is one of six seniors in the top-10 of the 200 fly. Also, Cal's Caitlin Leverenz comes in ranked No. 2 in the 200 breast and No. 3 in the 100 fly.
For diving, it should be a battle for the second, third and fourth spots in the team scoring, with Stanford's Stephanie Phipps holding an advantage over her competitors. Earlier this year the All-American Phipps beat Cal's Molly Hayes in the 1- and 3-meter at the Stanford Invite. It was a 26-point win in the 1-meter and 14-point decision in the 3-meter. Stanford's Sloane Brazina was third at that event's 1-meter, Cal's Kelsey Heiken was third in the 3-meter.
In addition, Cardinal divers will also be busy internationally. Dwight Dumais is in Germany (starting February 10), while alumnae Cassidy Krug and freshman Kristian Ipsen leave on Friday for the World Cup with head diving coach Dr. Rick Schavone. That event starts February 20, as Ipsen, who has yet to lose a collegiate event, will likely miss the Pac-12 men's diving championships.
Championship season begins starts on February 22 with the Pac-12 Championships in Federal Way, Wash., with the Zone Regional Diving Championships beginning in Colorado Springs on March 8. Both events are preludes to the NCAA Championships at Auburn starting on March 15.