BERKELEY - With victories in four of the last six races Sunday morning, California held off a strong challenge from Florida to prevail in a two-day dual with the Gators, 238-210, at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
The Bears held a 135-108 advantage following Saturday’s 13 events. But Florida came out fast and won the first five events Sunday to grab a 170-66 advantage.
Starting with freshman Celina Li’s convincing decision in the 200-yard butterfly, Cal moved in front for good, and the Bears clinched the meet with a 1-3-4 finish in the next-to-last race – the 100 breaststroke . The Bears ended the competition with a 1-2 showing in the 400 freestyle relay pull away for the final score.
“I think Florida gave us a good wake-up call, which long term, is going to be really valuable,” Cal head coach Teri McKeever said. “I felt like we got rocked back on our heels, but fortunately we responded. If we want to reach our potential as a team this year, we need to minimize that. We put ourselves in a place of having to respond instead of taking the initiative to be ready to go right out of the gate.”
One of Florida’s strengths is in distance freestyle, and McKeever inserted freshman Missy Franklin into both the 1000 and 500 free Sunday. Although she did not win either race, Franklin did score valuable points with a third-place showing in the 1000 (10:03.94) and a second-place result in the 500 (4:50.84).
“The long-distance events are not my specialty, but that’s kind of what makes them fun,” said Franklin, who won the 200 and 500 free Saturday. “There’s not a lot of pressure in them. I just get to go out and race.”
Added McKeever: “We’re putting [Missy] in some areas that, as a team, we have a little bit of need and we’re asking her to step in because she is so versatile.”
Li added the 100 fly title to the 200 fly race she claimed Saturday. In the 100, she finished in 54.33, a full 1.4 seconds ahead of Florida’s Ellese Zalewski. With sophomore Rachel Bootsma taking third and freshman Sophia Batchelor in fourth, the Bears, moved ahead, 180-175, in the overall point total.
Sophomore Elizabeth Pelton then came through in the 100 free, overtaking Gator sprint specialist Natalie Hinds in the final few strokes to touch the wall in 49.96 to Hinds’ 50.00. Freshman Marina Garcia later took first in the 100 breast in 1:02.39, just ahead of Florida’s Hilda Luthersdottir (1:02.50).
In the last event – the 400 free relay – the quartet of Franklin, Caroline Piehl, Camille Cheng and Pelton finished in 3:21.27, with Kaylin Bing, Alicia Grima, Stephanie Au and Bootsma scoring second-place points in 3:25.77
“Yesterday, with the crowd and the band coming out, it was so easy to get out there and race,” Franklin said. “Whereas on a Sunday morning at 9 a.m., it’s a lot harder to get that same energy again. One thing we can work together on is making sure we have that energy all the time. That’s what Florida did today. They came out this morning and they were ready. Then we did what we needed to do and we finished it off.”
The Gators’ Elizabeth Beisel had the top performance Sunday with victories in the 200 free, 400 individual medley and 500 free.
The Bears will take a week off from competition before hosting Wisconsin in a dual meet with the men’s team on Friday, Nov. 1 starting at 1 p.m.