BERKELEY – Given the number of hats Cal women’s swimming & diving coach Teri McKeever will be wearing at the upcoming national championships, she may just have to shout “Wardrobe!” every time she needs to change.
Leader of the Golden Bear contingent of a dozen Cal women’s swimmers – both past and present – McKeever’s role at the meet will also include recruiter and head coach of the women’s squad for the upcoming U.S. Pan Pacific Championships. Needless to say, McKeever doesn’t expect to be idle for very long during the Phillips 66 National Championships, which run Aug. 6-10 in Irvine, Calif.
“I feel really honored to have the opportunity to go to a meet like this and be really busy,” McKeever said. “It’s not very much fun to spend five days and just sit around.”
McKeever’s primary priority will be to the swimmers she tutors on a daily basis, and a lot is on the line for all of the participants. Not only will the meet determine places for the U.S. squad that will compete at Pan Pacs Aug. 21-24 in Gold Coast, Australia, but results will help determine spots for the 2015 World Championships, World University Games and Pan Am Games.
“I’m going to take care of our needs as a Cal program first,” McKeever said. “As we go through the meet and the U.S. team gets more established, we’ll have to start having to make decisions around the staff where I’ll have to take time and put that hat on. And from a recruiting standpoint, we’ll also be looking at the people that we’re going to be bringing in not only for this fall but down the road, looking at who could be good fits for our program. There are three distinct roles and responsibilities for me. It can get a little crazy.”
Many of the Bears who will be suiting up in Irvine include veterans of the national team, including the likes of Missy Franklin, Caitlin Leverenz, Elizabeth Pelton, Rachel Bootsma and Natalie Coughlin – all of whom have medaled at the Olympics or World Championships. Franklin (100 and 200 free, 100 and 200 back), Leverenz (200 IM), Bootsma (50 back) and Coughlin (50 free) are defending U.S. champions, while Pelton was runner-up in both the 100 and 200 back last summer.
Since the collegiate season ended in March, the Cal swimmers have transitioned from short-course yards to long-course meters. And through a series of meets this summer, McKeever is pleased with the progress she has seen.
“I really feel as individuals, everyone is in a better position physically, mentally and emotionally than they were when we started,” McKeever said. “I really feel like they have progressed on their journey toward personal excellence. Regardless of the outcome, I really feel like the group that has been here this summer has really moved forward. That’s a really good feeling going into the meet because that progress hopefully is going to show up.”
On deck and in the pool at nationals will be current members of the Golden Bears, both men and women, as well as numerous alumni. Should results mirror last year, when over 15 Cal-affiliated swimmers finished among the top 3 at nationals, the Bears will make their presence known.
“The summer has a lot more of an individual feel to it than the collegiate year does,” McKeever said. “It’s different for both the coaching staff and the swimmers. It’s taking that individual part, but also using the strength of the team. It’s Cal Aquatics together; we’re all training for the same meet. It’s a decade-plus of Cal swimming collectively moving toward the same goal.”
Catch all the action from the 2014 Phillips 66 National Championships held at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine, including a live webcast and results, at usaswimming.org/nationals.