FRESNO - The Fresno State swimming & diving team opens its season hosting 2016 national runner-up Cal - and its three Olympians - as well as Nevada, San Jose State, and San Diego State in the Chick-Fil-A Invitational Friday and Saturday at the Fresno State Aquatics Center. The meet is sponsored by Chick-Fil-A Fashion Fair.
The invitational begins at 11 a.m. Friday with two sessions and will conclude with a third session starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday. There will be 18 swimming events over the two days while both the 3-meter and 1-meter diving competitions will take place on Friday. Admission is free for all Fresno State home meets, and fans are encouraged to wear pink for breast cancer awareness weekend. The first 100 fans on Saturday will receive free pink swim caps.
"It's always exciting having the first meet of the season and we like to host it," Fresno State head coach Jeanne Fleck said. "Having great teams come to our pool is always really fun. We're starting out with a bang and having the No. 2 team in the country come to our pool is always a big honor but also a big hill to climb. We've been getting ready for this; the only way you get better is swimming the best people in the country."
Cal finished as the national runner up to Stanford at the 2016 NCAA Swimming & Diving championships. The Golden Bears have three Olympians on their roster, including 2016 U.S. Olympic champion Kathleen Baker. The junior won gold swimming the leadoff leg in the 400 Medley Relay and claimed a silver medal in the 100 Back at the 2016 games in Rio De Janeiro. She added five NCAA titles last year and was the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) National Swimmer of the Year.
California senior Noemie Thomas represented Canada in the Butterfly at the 2016 summer Olympic Games and freshman Robin Neumann swam for The Netherlands in two freestyle events. Cal is coached by former Fresno State head coach Teri McKeever, who led the Bulldogs from 1987 to 1992 before joining the Golden Bears.
"Our goal is to do as well as we can and have a great starting place for the season," Fleck added. "We like to get better every meet. We get to see a lot of teams from our conference at this first invitational and then we will see all of them again down the road so our goal is to get better the next time we swim them."
Two-time Mountain West champion Ugne Mazutaityte returns for her junior season after winning conference titles in the 200 Backstroke in each of her first two collegiate seasons. She represented Lithuania in the FINA World Championships as well as the World University Games this summer and broke the Lithuanian national record in the 100 Back.
Mazutaityte is the program record holder in both the 100 and 200 Back while Manuela Mendolicchio broke the program record in the 100 Breaststroke as a freshman last season. Among the team's newcomers this season is junior sprinter Osianna McReed, who was the 2017 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Swimmer of the Year as she was the NJCAA National Champion in six events swimming for Indian River State College.
On the diving boards, junior Kelli Funk and sophomore Serena Sedillo return after qualifying for the NCAA Zone Championships on all three boards last season, with Sedillo reaching the finals on platform. Irina Nikolaeva, who redshirted last season, returns after qualifying for the NCAA Zones as a freshman in 2015.
Chick-Fil-A Invitational Schedule (Aquatics Center)
Friday, October 6 - 11:00 AM
All Session: 3-Meter Diving
200 Medley Relay
200 Individual Medley
200 Freestyle Relay
- 30 Min Break -
All Session: 1-Meter Diving
400 Individual Medley
800 Freestyle Relay
Saturday, October 7 - 10:00 AM
400 Medley Relay
400 Freestyle Relay