This weekend may offer the first home meets of the calendar year, but it also marks the only time the top-ranked Cal women’s swimming & diving team will compete in Berkeley during the 2014 dual season. In a pair of double duals with the men’s program, the Golden Bears will host Arizona State Friday and Arizona Saturday at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
For both days, diving will begin at 11 a.m. and the 1000 free will start at 11:25 a.m. to accommodate television by the Pac-12 Networks. The remaining events will get underway at noon. Admission is free.
The two duals serve as Cal’s first competitive meets since the AT&T Winter Nationals in Knoxville, Tenn., in early December. During the three-day event, current Golden Bears picked up nine victories, including two each by double-winners Missy Franklin (100 back, 200 free) and Elizabeth Pelton (200 back, 200 IM). Freshman Celina Li triumphed in the 400 IM, and Cal captured four of the five relays.
Cal owns a 21-10-1 series advantage over ASU after taking a 171-121 decision last year in Tempe. The Bears dropped a 168.5-112.5 meet at Arizona last season but still lead the series, 19-11. Arizona enters this weekend’s racing ranked 10th with ASU unranked.
Following the performances vs. ASU and UA, the Bears will travel to Los Angeles to face USC Jan. 31 and UCLA Feb. 1 before returning to the Bay Area for a match-up at Stanford Feb. 15.
Senior Salute: Saturday’s meet vs. Arizona will mark the last Spieker Aquatics Complex appearance for six seniors on the Golden Bear roster - Stephanie Au, Melissa Bates, K.T. Livingstone, Kahley Rowell, Mikkel-Ane Stipe and Cindy Tran. Together, they’ve helped Cal to a pair of NCAA team titles (2011 and 2012), a national runner-up finish in 2013 and a Pac-12 championship in 2012. Tran has captured six NCAA crowns over her career, including individual victories in the 100-yard backstroke in both 2011 and ’12, Au has represented Hong Kong at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, while Rowell is the first two-time All-American diver in school history.
Get Your Autographs Right Here: The Golden Bears will sign autographs for fans after both meets this weekend following the team’s warm-down. Cal autograph placards will be available at the main entrance to Spieker Aquatics Complex. Due to team commitments, the men’s team will not be available to sign autographs.
Time to Tune in on the Bears: Four of Cal’s five Pac-12 dual meets, as well as the Pac-12 Championships, will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. Satursday’s match-up with Arizona State gets underway at 12 noon at Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley and will be aired live. The following day, the Cal-Arizona meet will be shown on a same-day delay at 8:30 p.m. Rich Burk and former Golden Bear star Natalie Coughlin will handle the on-air duties. Broadcast schedules for the remaining meets will be announced by the Pac-12 at a later date.
Pac-12 Competition Heating Up: Over the course of 23 days - from Friday’s meet vs. Arizona State through a visit to Stanford Feb. 15 - the Bears will face off against five of the best teams in the Pac-12 and the country. Following this weekend’s competition vs. ASU and Arizona, Cal visits USC and UCLA Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 before traveling to Stanford Feb. 15. According to the latest rankings from the swim coaches association (CSCAA), Cal is No. 1 with Stanford No. 4, USC No. 5, Arizona No. 10 and UCLA No. 16.
Meeting the Standard: Through the end of the fall season, five Golden Bears had recorded swims under the NCAA A standards in 11 events. In addition, all five Cal relays had reached the standard, as well. Missy Franklin leads the way with qualifying times in the 100 free (47.42), 200 free (school-record 1:41.40), 500 free (school-record 4:34.63), 100 back (51.59) and 200 back (1:51.54). Elizabeth Pelton has A marks in the 100 back (51.27), 200 back (1:49.59) and 200 IM (1:54.15) - all team-leading times. Finally, Rachel Bootsma has an A time in the 100 back (5 1.86) and Celina Li in the 200 IM 1:54.25).
Missy Franklin Named Sportswoman of the Year: Golden Bear freshman Missy Franklin added to her long list of awards Oct. 16 when she was named the Sportswoman of the Year for an individual sport by the Women’s Sports Foundation during a ceremony in New York. Franklin captured a women’s-record six gold medals during the 2013 FINA World Championships and was a four-time individual champion at U.S. Nationals in the 100- and 200-meter freestyle and backstroke. Among the finalists were Serena Williams (tennis), Inbee Park (golf) and Jenn Stuhr (track & field).
Cal has had two others recognized by the Women’s Sports Foundation. Swimmer Natalie Coughlin received the individual sport award in 2003, while soccer star Alex Morgan took home the Sportswoman of the Year for a team sport last year.
More Honors for Missy Franklin: In addition to the Sportswoman of the Year Award, Cal freshman Missy Franklin has added several more honors to her collection so far this year. She was the high-point scorer at AT&T Winter Nationals and as a result, was tabbed the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month for December. That same month, ESPNW named Franklin its No. 3 most impactful female athlete of 2013 behind only Brittney Griner and Serena Williams. In addition, Time Magazine listed Franklin as one of the top 16 most influential teens of 2013. Among others included were Malia Obama, Justin Bieber and Lorde.
Blogging with Eva Greene:Eva Greene, a junior from Falls Church, Va., is writing a regular blog for the Washington Post this season. Dubbed Behind the Blocks, Greene’s thoughts on the Bears can be found at reachforthewall.com. So far, topics she has covered include her passion for swimming, finding a warm-up routine, dealing with adversity and looking for balance during finals week.
Bears on USA National Team: Based on their results from several national and international competitions, seven Golden Bears have been selected for the 2013-14 U.S. National Team. Those on the current roster are Missy Franklin (100m free, 200m free, 100m back, 200m back), Elizabeth Pelton (100m back, 200m back), Rachel Bootsma (100m back) and Celina Li (200m IM, 400m IM). Alumnae chosen for the squad are Natalie Coughlin (50m free, 100m free), Dana Vollmer (100m fly) and Caitlin Leverenz (200m IM, 400m IM).
Cal Posts 11 Wins at AT&T Winter Nationals: Cal swimmers past and present accumulated 11 victories at the AT&T Winter Nationals in Knoxville, Tenn., Dec. 5-7. Missy Franklin captured the 100 back and 200 free, Elizabeth Pelton won the 200 back and 200 IM, Celina Li took the 400 IM and Golden Bear alum Natalie Coughlin claimed the 50 and 100 free. In addition, Cal prevailed in four of the five relays - 200 and 400 medley relay and 400 and 800 free relay. Franklin established a pair of school records, first with a runner-up finish in the 500 free (4;34.63) and then in the 200 free (1:41.40). All told, the Bears recorded 11 NCAA A standard individual swims, with each of the five relays also going under the A standard. Franklin, who was the high-point scorer, was named the National Swimmer of the Week by collegeswimming.com for her performance.
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 (100m back, 200m back, 200m free, 400m medley relay, 400m free relay, 800m free relay) and Elizabeth Pelton (400m free relay and 400m medley relay).
Reigning Champions: Sophomores Elizabeth Pelton and Rachel Bootsma both captured NCAA titles in their first season with the Bears in 2013. Pelton was named the Swimmer of the Meet after setting an American record in the 200-yard backstroke, and Bootsma won the 100 back. In addition, senior Cindy Tran owns a pair of NCAA crowns in the 100 back from her freshman and sophomore seasons in 2011 and ’12.
Celina Li - Queen of the Pool: Cal freshman Celina Li came away with the title of Queen of the Pool at Cal’s opening meet at Cal Poly Sept. 20. The unique competition included a combined time from five 100-yard races - free, back, fly, breast and IM. Li had the lowest time (4:43.10), just ahead of Missy Franklin (4:43.22). Li captured the fly, breast and IM races, while Franklin took the backstroke by more than a second and sophomore Elizabeth Pelton claimed the butterfly.
Golden Bears Win a Golden Goggle: Cal freshman Missy Franklin and Golden Bear alumna Natalie Coughlin earned a Golden Goggle in late November as members of the USA 4x100-meter free relay that claimed a gold medal at the World Championships over the summer. The result earned them the Relay Performance of the Year Award. The Golden Goggles, presented by the USA Swimming Foundation, honors achievements in the sport over the past year.
Dual Meet Recap - Bears Off to 4-0 Start Cal 163, Wisconsin 111 - Nov. 1, 2013: Cal opened the month of November with a 163-111 victory over Wisconsin. The Bears picked up wins in 12 of 14 swimming events plus both diving competitions to improve their record to 4-0 on the year. Multiple winners on the afternoon included Missy Franklin (200 back, 200 IM), Celina Li (1000 free, 200 breast) and Anne Kastler (1-meter and 3-meter diving). The Bears wrapped up the meet when the foursome of Elizabeth Pelton, Li, Rachael Acker and Franklin produced a then-season-best time of 3:20.99 in the 400 free relay.
Cal 238, Florida 210 - Oct. 19-20, 2013: Cal and Florida competed against each other at Spieker Aquatics Complex in a two-day meet, and the Golden Bears emerged with a 238-210 victory over the Gators. Sophomore Elizabeth Pelton provided the highlight when she set a pool record in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing in 1:53.94 - almost six seconds ahead of her nearest pursuer. Pelton also claimed the 200 IM and picked up a key win on day two when she edged Florida’s Natalie Hinds, 49.96 to 50.00, in the 100 free. Freshman Celina Li claimed both the 100 and 200 fly, while other double winners for Cal were Marina Garcia in the 100 and 200 breast and Missy Franklin in day one’s versions of the 200 and 500 free.
Cal 164, Washington State 89 - Oct. 4, 2013: In Cal’s first home meet of the season that provided a chance for the team’s freshmen to don their school suits and caps for the first time in competition at Spieker Aquatics Center, Golden Bear newcomers starred in a 164-89 win over Washington State. Missy Franklin won the 100-yard back (54.37) and anchored the victorious 400-yard medley relay. Other freshmen to grab headlines included Celina Li (400 IM, 4:13.42), Marina Garcia (1000 free, 10:20.53; 200 breast, 2:17.51) and Farida Osman (50 free, 23.56; 100 fly, 55.07).
Cal 161, Oregon State 95 - Sept. 27, 2013: Cal opened up its dual-meet season by winning 13 of 14 events in a 161-95 victory at Oregon State. Golden Bear freshmen prevailed in five races on the day, including two each by Missy Franklin (1000 free, 100 fly) and Celina Li (200 fly, 200 breast). 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 back and 200 IM. 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.