IRVINE – Led by Cal sophomore Missy Franklin, Golden Bear swimmers swept the top three places in the women’s 100-meter backstroke Saturday at the Phillips 66 National Championships. Franklin was clocked in 59.38 – the third-fast time in the world this year – with teammates Rachel Bootsma second and Elizabeth Pelton third.
Franklin, who won the 100 back at the meet for the fourth year in a row, trailed after the first 50 meters, but she came home in 29.98, which more than a second faster than anyone else in the field.
“With backstroke, as soon as you get the start out of the way, that’s the hardest part,” said Franklin, who claimed both the 200 back and 100 free earlier in the competition. “I knew the rest of the field was going to be out really fast, so I knew I was going to have to bring it home strong.”
Bootsma won the 50 back Friday night and came through in the 100-meter distance Saturday in 1:00.71. Pelton was right behind in 1:00.76. Further showing Cal’s prominence in the backstroke, senior Melanie Klaren captured the B final in 1:01.81.
The Bears were also active in other events on the evening. Incoming freshman Cierra Runge finished second in the 400 free in 4:04.67, behind a world-record performance from Katie Ledecky. Runge also placed second behind Ledecky in the 800 free Thursday. In addition, freshman-to-be Maija Roses was seventh in the C final of the 100 breaststroke in 1:10.19.
First-place finishers in each of event earn automatic berths on the U.S. team that will compete at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia, coached by Cal’s Teri McKeever, later this month. Second-, third- and fourth-place finishers may be added later in the week, pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events.
The Pan Pacs team is just one of five international teams being selected this week in Irvine. Also at stake are spots on the 2014 Junior Pan Pacific Championships team, the 2015 World Championships Team, the 2015 World University Games Team and 2015 Pan American Games team. Those rosters will be released at a later date.
Racing at the national meet continues through Sunday. For complete results and coverage, visit usaswimming.org.