With its home season now complete, the top-ranked Cal women’s swimming & diving team takes a 6-0 dual-meet record to Los Angeles this weekend where it will face No. 5 USC at 3 p.m. Friday and No. 16 UCLA at noon Saturday. The competition against the Bruins will be televised on a delayed basis by the Pac-12 Networks, airing at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Cal is coming off a sweep of Arizona State (229-69) and Arizona (190-109), where the Bears combined to win 25 of 32 events. Missy Franklin won three individual events each day, Cindy Tran took the 100 fly both afternoons and Kaylin Bing swept the 50 free against the Sun Devils and Wildcats.
Last year in Berkeley, USC edged Cal, 155-145, while the Bears topped the Bruins, 165-135. Still, Cal leads each series, 20-14 over the Trojans and 22-10 over UCLA.
Following this weekend, Cal will conclude its dual-meet season at Stanford Feb. 15. The Pac-12 Championships are Feb. 26-March 1 in Federal Way, Wash., with the NCAA meet March 20-22 in Minneapolis.
Tops in the Country: In the latest swimming statistics, Golden Bears have posted the fastest times in the nation in the 200 and 500 free and the 200 back, as well as the 400 medley relay. Freshman Missy Franklin is No. 1 in both freestyle events after setting school records during victories at AT&T Winter Nationals in early December. She went 1:41.40 in the 200-yard distance and 4:34.63 over 500 yards. In addition, sophomore Elizabeth Pelton is the top-rated 200-yard backstroker (1:49.59). Last year, Pelton set an American record in the event (1:47.84) on her way to the NCAA title. In addition, Pelton, Marina Garcia, Rachel Bootsma and Franklin covered the 400 medley relay in 3:29.91 at Winter Nationals.
Several other Cal swimmers are also among the county’s top 10 in their respective races: Franklin (6th, 50 free; 3rd, 100 free; 6th, 100 back; 5th, 200 back); Pelton (10th, 200 free; 2nd, 100 back; 3rd, 200 IM); Cindy Tran (3rd, 100 back); Bootsma (7th, 100 back, 8th, 200 fly); Melanie Klaren (7th, 200 back); and Celina Li (4th, 200 IM; 5th, 400 IM).
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, including last week’s match-ups against Arizona State and Arizona and Saturday’s competition at UCLA. In addition, Cal’s dual at Stanford Feb. 15 and the Pac-12 Championships in Federal Way, Wash., will be shown by the Pac-12 Networks. Fans can catch the Cal-UCLA meet on a delay basis beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday with commentators Jason Knapp and Amy Van Dyken.
Pac-12 Competition Heating Up: Over the course of 23 days - from last week’s meets vs. Arizona State and Arizona, to trips to USC and UCLA, 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. 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: Entering this week’s competition, five Golden Bears have recorded swims under the NCAA A standards in 11 individual events. In addition, all five Cal relays have reached the standard. 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 (51.86) and Celina Li in the 200 IM (1:54.25).
Backstroke Corps for the Ages: Perhaps no team in the NCAA has ever been as deep in the backstroke as this year’s Cal squad, which can boast of NCAA crowns, Olympic and World Championships gold medals and world and American records. Senior Cindy Tran captured national titles in the 100 back in 2011 and ’12 before sophomore Rachel Bootsma won the event last season. Sophomore Elizabeth Pelton took home the NCAA championship in the 200 back in 2013, setting an American record in the process. And, of course, there’s freshman Missy Franklin, the reigning Olympic and world champion in the 100- and 200-meter back who owns the world record at the 200-meter distance.
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 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 (6-0, 4-0 Pac-12) Cal 190, Arizona 109 - Jan. 25, 2014: In a battle of top 10 teams, No. 1 Cal posted a convincing decision over No. 10 Arizona before a record crowd of more than 1,500 fans at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears won 11 of 16 events, led by freshman Missy Franklin, who captured three individual races for the second day in a row (100 and 500 free, 100 back). The afternoon also served as the final home meet for six Cal seniors – Stephanie Au, Melissa Bates, K.T. Livingstone, Kahley Rowell, Mikkel-Ane Stipe and Cindy Tran. Perhaps the most notable Cal win came in the 50 free when Kaylin Bing out-touched reigning NCAA champion Margo Geer of Arizona, 22.80 to 22.85.
Cal 229, Arizona State 69 - Jan. 24, 2014: In its first dual meet in more than two-and-a-half months, No. 1 Cal shook off the rust and cruised to a win over Arizona State. The Bears claimed at least the top two positions in 10 of 12 swimming races and captured both relays before a live TV audience on the Pac-12 Networks. Senior Cindy Tran (100 back, 100 fly), as well as freshmen Missy Franklin (200 and 500 free, 200 back), Marina Garcia (100 and 200 breast) and Celina Li (200 fly, 400 IM) were multiple winners on the afternoon. In addition, Kaylin Bing prevailed in the 50 free and Rachael Acker took first place in the 100 free.
Cal 163, Wisconsin 111 - Nov. 1, 2013: Cal opened the month of November with a 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 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, Golden Bear newcomers starred in a 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 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). 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.