Dec. 2, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. - California's Elizabeth Pelton broke her own American record in the 200-yard backstroke and Caitlin Leverenz and Rachel Bootsma also won events on the last day of the Georgia Fall Invitational on Sunday. The second-ranked Golden Bears finished with 876 points to take second place behind host and third-ranked Georgia (991 points) at Gabrielsen Natatorium. Tenth-ranked Virginia (630) placed third.
Pelton, a member of Cal's stellar freshman class, clocked an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 1:48.90 to win the 200 back and surpass her previous American record of 1:49.16 on March 3, 2011. She also eclipsed Natalie Coughlin's school record of 1:49.52 set on March 23, 2002, when Coughlin won the 200 back at the NCAA Championships. Pelton crushed the championship final field, which included three other Bears: junior Cindy Tran was third (1:53.24), sophomore Melanie Klaren took fourth (1:54.27) and freshman Lauren Driscoll placed eighth (1:57.00). Tran, Klaren and Driscoll all swam provisional NCAA qualifying times.
Leverenz, Cal's senior co-captain and the defending NCAA champion in the 200-yard breaststroke, won the 200 breast and also tied Bootsma, her freshman teammate, in the 200-yard butterfly on Sunday. The 2012 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist posted an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 2:06.46 to claim the 200 breast. She and Bootsma both clocked an NCAA B qualifying time of 1:55.69 to tie for the 200-fly title.
In the 100 freestyle, freshman Rachael Acker notched Cal's best finish, taking sixth with an NCAA B time of 49.13.
The 400-yard freestyle relay ended the meet, with the Cal A squad of Acker, Bootsma, Pelton and Tran taking second behind Georgia's top relay, 3:12.71-3:13.66.
"Obviously Elizabeth's performance was pretty inspiring for all of us tonight," Cal head coach Teri McKeever said. "I thought she had a great meet, and the freshmen as a whole really stood up. Elizabeth, Rachel, Kelly Naze, Rachael Acker, Lauren Driscoll and Alicia Grima are all making good progress.
"Caitlin continues to do good things. Cindy Tran's 200-back was a lifetime best; she really stepped up big this weekend in a lot of things. This was a good meet for everyone to get a better idea of what we need to work on and what the demands will be as we move towards the Pac-12 Championships and NCAAs as far as number of events and swimming in prelims and finals."
The Cal men won their side of the Georgia Fall Invitational.
"They're a really solid team, and they have really good energy," McKeever said of head coach David Durden's Bears. "It was great to see them win."
The Cal women return to action in the New Year, when they battle No. 13 Arizona in a Pac-12 dual meet on Jan. 25 in Tucson, Ariz.
Georgia Fall Invitational
Rank/Team Points 1. Georgia 991 2. California 876 3. Virginia 630 4. Auburn 539 5. Penn State 482 6. Harvard 265 7. Virginia Tech 134