KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The California women’s swimming team posted a dominating set of results on the opening night of the 2013 AT&T Winter National Championships Thursday.
Sophomore Elizabeth Pelton won the 200-yard individual medley, alumna Natalie Coughlin claimed the 50 free, Missy Franklin broke a school record in the 500 free, and the Golden Bears went 1-2 in the 400 medley relay to close out the day’s competition.
With the 200 free relay starting off the competition, the Bears had their A and B squads finish second and third. SwimMAC Carolina took first in a meet-record 1:27.19, followed by Franklin, Rachel Bootsma, Cindy Tran and Pelton in 1:28.44, also under the previous meet record. Kristen Vredeveld, Farida Osman, Rachael Acker and Kaylin Bing were right behind in 1:29.55.
Franklin came back a short time later to compete in the 500 free, a rare event for her as she typically focuses on the 100 and 200 free and backstroke (she’s world champion three of the four events). Katie Ledecky, the reigning world champion at the 400-meter distance, won the event in 4:32.37. Franklin took a close second in 4:34.63, while Cal’s Melanie Klaren was fifth in 4:41.23. In addition, Catherine Breed placed 10th (4:41.99) with Stephanie Au 18th (4:46.43). Franklin’s time was a Cal record, breaking the mark of 4:36.79 set by Sara Isakovic in 2009.
In the IM, Pelton and teammate Celina Li took traded the lead for much of the race. In the end, Pelton prevailed with a 26.82 split on her freestyle leg to win in 1:54.15, with Li finishing second in 1:54.25. Former Golden Bear swimmer Caitlin Leverenz, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the 200-meter version of the IM, was seventh in 1:58.00. Two other current Cal swimmers were under two minutes, as well – Caroline Piehl (11th, 1:58.15) and Kelly Naze (13th, 1:59.95).
Coughlin came through in the 50-yard free in 21.51, ahead of runner-up Amana Weir representing Swim Atlanta, who was timed in 21.62. Current Bears Kaylin Bing and Osman tied for ninth in 22.55, with Acker 12th in 22.75.
For the final event, Pelton, Marina Garcia, Bootsma and Franklin out-dueled the quartet of Tran, Li, Sophia Batchelor and Acker in the battle for first place. The Cal A team finished in a meet-record 3:29.91, with the B group second in 3:33.36.
Racing continues through Saturday. For complete results, click here.