FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – Having entered Friday’s competition at the Pac-12 Championships more than 100 points behind Stanford in the team race, members of the Cal women’s swimming & diving team knew they had to maximize their opportunities if they were to get back in the hunt for the title.
By the end of the night, the Golden Bears had done just that and more. With Rachel Bootsma defending her crown in the 100-yard backstroke, Missy Franklin setting a meet record in the 200 freestyle and the 400 medley relay coming through with a win in a season-best time, Cal now finds itself atop the standings with a more than 50-point lead over the Cardinal.
In all, the Bears compiled 619 points in seven events Friday with an amazing 155 coming in the 200 free and another 113 in the 100 back. Overall, Cal has 1,019 points, with Stanford in second place with 967 points and USC third with 896.
“We figured today that we had 25 official swims in the morning and 23 of them got back to score points,” head coach Teri McKeever said. “Traditionally, this has been our good day. A lot of different people stepped up.”
Perhaps no one did more so that Bootsma, the 2013 Pac-12 and NCAA champion in the 100 back. Having qualified for two finals, she initially took third place in the 100 butterfly, finishing in a season-best 52.06. A short while later, she came from behind in the last few yards to edge Felicia Lee of Stanford by 0.10 in the 100 back with a time of 51.19. Bootsma returned to the fly for the final event of the evening, swimming the leg on Cal’s victorious 400 medley relay that touched in 3:29.23.
“Rachel has struggled a bit this year,” McKeever said. “I’m really pleased for her. She’s put in a lot of work, but it hasn’t really shown up until today. I’m really proud of the way she handled herself and hope there’s more in the tank.”
Said Bootsma: “I was really nervous this morning. These were my first individual event of this meet. Then one of my teammates came up to me and said it’s just like practice. Once I got through prelims, I had fun. I love finals way more than prelims. Tonight’s swim (in the 100 back) was much better than it had been all season, so I’m really pleased with that and hopefully I can go faster at NCAA’s.”
Franklin set her second meet record in as many days, winning the 200 free in 1:42.29 to break former Cal star Dana Vollmer’s mark. Franklin broke the 500 free meet record on Thursday. The 200 free featured three other Bears in the final, with Caroline Piehl fourth (1:44.48), Rachael Acker fifth (1:44.74) and Elizabeth Pelton sixth (1:45.12).
In the 400 medley relay, Cal led from the start after Tran’s backstroke leg. Celina Li was next the breaststroke, and Bootsma (fly) and Franklin (free) finished off the night with a win.
Among the other finalists Friday, Li (4:07.68) and Kelly Naze (4:11.61) placed 3-4 in the 400 individual medley, Sophia Batchelor (4th, 52.15) and Tran (6th, 52.41) added to Cal’s total in the 100 fly, and diver Anne Kastler set a school record with a score of 334.15 on her way to a fourth-place showing on the 3-meter board.
The Pac-12 Championships conclude Saturday with racing in the 1650 free, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly and 400 free relay, plus platform diving.
We talked a lot from the beginning of the year that you’ve got to be tough on that last morning,” McKeever said. “So, tomorrow morning, it’s important for us to come in and stay focused. You can’t have a great night if you don’t have a good morning.”