For the eight freshman swimmers on the Golden Bear women’s swimming & diving team, Friday’s meet against Washington State represents their first chance to wear a Cal cap in competition at Spieker Aquatics Complex on campus. And when the event gets underway at 1 p.m., a range of emotions are certain to be running through each and every one of them.
“I am so excited for my first meet in Berkeley,” said Kristen Vredeveld, a freestyle specialist from Chattanooga, Tenn. “It really is a dream come true. I’ve been looking forward to racing in a Cal cap at Spieker with all of my teammates supporting me since I committed last year, and it’s finally here.”
Even Missy Franklin, who has had stood on medal platforms at the Olympic Games and World Championships, expects to feel her share of anxiety when she steps up on the starting blocks for the first time.
“I will be nervous as anything,” Franklin predicted. “To compete in my first dual meet at home in Berkeley is going to be so exciting for me. It’s still hard for me to believe that I’m really here and that this is actually happening, and I think this meet will help push me into reality. Hopefully, the stands will be full of supporters that came out to watch our meet.”
Cal already has two meets under its belt this fall, but both were away from home - at the Queen of the Pool in San Luis Obispo (won by freshman Celina Li) and a dual meet at Oregon State.
“It will be such an honor to get up on the block and race for my Cal teammates and coaches,” Vredeveld added. “I am so excited to be able to represent such an incredible team and program.”
Added Li: "The first time that I step up onto the blocks, I will feel a mixture of excitement, nervousness, anxiousness, and happiness. On top of all these different emotions, I couldn’t be prouder to represent such a special team – one that is unparalleled in its energy, passion and support for one another."
The rookie class is comprised of a diverse group of swimmers who hail from four states and three foreign countries. What they all have in common is a desire to help maintain and advance the legacy of Cal aquatics during their careers as Golden Bears.
In addition to Franklin, Vredeveld, Li and Garcia the freshmen swimmers on the squad are Sophia Batchelor, Farida Osman, Abi Speers and Taylor Young.
Bears Nearly Sweep Oregon State: Cal opened up its dual-meet season by winning 13 of 14 events in a 161-95 victory at Oregon State last Friday (Sept. 27). Golden Bear freshmen prevailed in five races on the day, including two each by Missy Franklin (1000 freestyle, 100 butterfly) and Celina Li (200 fly, 200 breaststroke). Franklin’s time in the 1000 free (9:55.97) was just over a second outside of Cal’s all-time top 10 in the event. In addition, newcomer Marina Garcia claimed the 100 breast. Cal’s other double-winner was sophomore Kelly Naze in the 200 backstroke and 200 individual medley. The Bears also placed first in both relays – the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay. In the free relay, the last event of the competition, Franklin swam anchor and clocked a 22.84 split for the final 50 yards – the best split of the afternoon.
Catch the Bears on TV: Fans who can’t be at Cal’s meets in person will have plenty of opportunities to catch the Golden Bears on TV this season. Of the team’s five dual meets after Jan. 1, four will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks - Jan. 24 vs. Arizona State, Jan. 25 vs. Arizona, Feb. 1 at UCLA and Feb. 15 at Stanford. In addition, the Pac-12 Championships Feb. 26-March 1 will also be shown on the Pac-12 Networks.
Follow the Bears Live: Fans of Cal swimming & diving can now follow home and select away results live through a new mobile app that is offered for both iPhone and Android platforms. To download the app, visit your app store and search for Meet Mobile.
Get Your Autographs Right Here: Members of the Cal team will sign autographs for fans after the Washington State meet Friday following the team’s warm-down. Fans should form a line behind the diving boards and proceed around to the side of the pool opposite the bleachers. Cal autograph placards will be available at the main entrance to Spieker Aquatics Complex.
Don’t Forget the Divers: Cal’s corps of divers hasn’t made its 2013-14 debut yet with no diving events scheduled for this weekend’s meet vs. WSU. However, the group has two diving exclusive events on the upcoming calendar - the Wildcat Diving Invitational Nov. 22-24 in Tucson, Ariz., and the Bruin Diving Invitational Jan. 10-12 in Los Angeles. Among those returning for the Bears are senior Kathy Rowell, who placed third on platform at the Pac-12 Championships last year, and sophomore Sara-Lina Boushakra, who took fourth on platform at Pac-12s.
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.