BERKELEY – With sophomore Elizabeth Pelton and freshman Missy Franklin picking up a pair of victories – including a pool record from Pelton in the 200-yard backstroke – California took a 135-108 lead over Florida after the first day of a two-day meet between the swimming powerhouses.
The Bears and Gators will suit up again Sunday for 11 more races, beginning at 9 a.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Point totals from the two days of competition will be added together to determine a winner.
“I thought things went really well,” Cal head coach Teri McKeever said. “I was just very excited to have the caliber of a University of Florida program in here. We got a beautiful fall day and a great crowd. We’ve been working pretty hard and I just wanted to see how we would respond in a competitive situation. We definitely still have things to work on, but I was really pleased with the way we came through today.”
Franklin and Pelton teamed up to get Cal off to a strong start in the opening 400 medley relay. Franklin took out the backstroke leg in 53.90 to stake the Bears to a lead they would not relinquish. Yvette Kong followed in the breaststroke, with Rachel Bootsma in the butterfly and Pelton swimming the freestyle anchor to finish in 3:40.48.
Franklin earned her first individual victory in the 200 freestyle, touching nearly three seconds ahead of her nearest competitor in 1:45.19. Franklin won the 200-meter free distance at the World Championships this past summer.
In a thrilling race that came down to the final 25 yards, Pelton nudged out teammate Celina Li and Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel to claim the 200 individual medley in 1:57.48. Li was second in 1:58.18 and Beisel third in 1:58.29.
“I can train here and really be fast,” Pelton said. “But I’ve never been pushed like this on a day-to-day basis. We just get in the pool here and I expect people to be ahead of me but I kind of know how to respond now.”
Li garnered a solo win in the 200 fly in 1:57.98, again holding off Beisel, who was second in 1:58.54.
In the 200 back, Pelton led from the start and continued to increase her advantage throughout the race. She finished in 1:53.94 – almost six seconds ahead of runner-up and teammate Melanie Klaren. The time was a pool record, breaking Pelton’s own mark of 1:53.99 set last year vs. USC.
“It felt pretty good,” said Pelton, the defending NCAA champion and American-record-holder in the event. “I tried to take a look at the clock, but the sun was in the way. It looked like I was going a lot slower than I was. Going into it, I was pretty pumped. I wanted to put in a good last swim before I was done for the day.”
Franklin followed with a convincing swim in the 500 free and a time of 4:45.40, nearly seven seconds in front of the field.
The Bears wrapped up the day with Marina Garcia’s 2:12.97 victory in the 200 breast and a 1-2 finish in the 200 free relay.