In her first meet representing the Golden Bears last fall, then-freshman Rachel Bootsma picked up the title Queen of the Pool at the annual meet held in San Luis Obispo. Cal again travels to the central coast this weekend for start of the 2013-14 season, and Bootsma will be bringing a different perspective to the event.
“I am hoping to do my best and that is all I can ask for,” Bootsma said. “I’m not going to lie. I think that because I won last year as a freshman, I feel more pressure this year. But it’s a new year and a new team, and I am just excited to race.”
The unique day of racing includes 100-yard events in the freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and individual medley. Times for all five swims are added together, and the person with the lowest combined time is crowned Queen of the Pool. In 2012, Bootsma captured three of the five races – 100 fly, 100 back and 100 free – for a total time of 4:42.68 to edge teammate and defending champion Caitlin Leverenz by .72 seconds.
“I went into the Queen of the Pool meet very nervous,” Bootsma said. “Because I was a freshman, I wanted to earn my spot on the team, and I think I swam out of pure nerves. I was very honored and honestly surprised to have won Queen. I know my backstroke and butterfly are good, but I am not the greatest IMer or freestyler. So to win was a huge surprise.”
Though Leverenz has since graduated, Bootsma will have plenty of others attempting to take away her title Friday, including sophomore Elizabeth Pelton, who was third last year. The meet will also serve as the debut for Cal’s freshman class that features three 2012 Olympians in Missy Franklin (USA), Farida Osman (Egypt) and Marina Garcia (Spain).
“I think this meet will give the team a base point to see where we are at this season,” Bootsma said. “I also think that because it is the first time we will all be in a race setting together, we will see the true colors of the team.”
Olympic Roster: Among those listed on the Cal roster this season are five swimmers who competed at the 2012 Olympics in London, including a pair of gold medalists. Freshman Missy Franklin leads the crowd, having won four gold medals and a bronze medal, while sophomore Rachel Bootsma earned gold as part of the USA 400-meter medley relay. In addition, senior Stephanie Au represented Hong Kong, freshman Farida Osman swam for Egypt, and Marina Garcia competed for Spain.
World Championships Success: At the 2013 World Championships held over the summer in Barcelona, 12 Cal swimmers – current, incoming and graduates – accounted for 14 total medals, including gold by current team members Missy Franklin (6 events) and Elizabeth Pelton (400m free relay).
Reigning Champions: Sophomores Elizabeth Pelton and Rachel Bootsma both captured NCAA titles in their first season with the Bears. Pelton was named the Swimmer of the Meet after setting an American record in the 200-yard backstroke, and Bootsma won the 100 back.