FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – As confidence builders go, Wednesday’s results at the Pac-12 Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships had plenty to offer California. The Golden Bears closed out the opening night with a conference meet record in the 800-yard free relay after starting off with a runner-up showing in the 200 medley relay.
With a quartet comprised of Missy Franklin, Rachael Acker, Caroline Piehl and Elizabeth Pelton, Cal rolled to a nearly five-second victory in the 800 free relay, finishing in 6:53.57. The time was well ahead of the previous Pac-12 record of 6:56.87 set in 2008 and less than a second off Cal’s own NCAA record of 6:52.69. Stanford was second in 6:58.57.
“I know we were all really excited going into the relay, being our first race of the week,” said Piehl, whose split of 1:43.19 on the third leg pushed the Bears out to a three-second advantage. “We all think we can go faster for NC’s. We were about a second off the American record. We’ll definitely be going for that at NC’s. It was a great start to the meet. We have some good momentum moving forward.”
“Absolutely,” McKeever said. “It got us back on track to where we want to be. Caroline had a monster swim. She’s had a good year and I’m very happy for her.”
In the medley relay, the foursome of Rachel Bootsma, Yvette Kong, Cindy Tran and Franklin finished in 1:36.06, placing just behind Stanford’s 1:35.74. The Bears’ result was their fastest of the season, surpassing the 1:36.91 mark from AT&T Winter Nationals in December.
Cal trailed the Cardinal by more than a second after the first two legs, but couldn’t quick close the gap despite a 22.68 split by Tran in the butterfly and a 21.68 split by Franklin in the free.
In the team standings, Cal and Stanford are tied at the top with 120 points apiece. USC is next with 108 points and Arizona fourth with 104.
In addition to the two scoring relays, both of Cal’s B relays also posted impressive times. The 200 medley relay of Stephanie Au, Marina Garcia, Farida Osman and Kaylin Bing finished in 1:37.01, which was the fourth fastest of all swims on the night. In addition, Camille Cheng, Catherine Breed, Celina Li and Melanie Klaren were timed in 7:02.23 in the 800 free relay, which also ranked fourth among relays Wednesday. Leading off, Cheng’s mark of 1:44.61 in the 200 free was the second fastest of all opening legs on the day (only behind Franklin’s 1:42.89) and moves her up to No. 14 in the country in the event so far this season.
“Almost everybody got a swim today, which is very good,” McKeever said. “It gets the nerves out a little bit. Tomorrow morning, we need to come in ready and be strong. We need to get some women in scoring position.”
Competition resumes in earnest Thursday with preliminaries and finals in the 500 free, 200 individual medley, 50 free, 1-meter diving and 200 free relay. Live results will be posted online here.