Nov. 30, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. - In an early-season matchup featuring some top NCAA-championship contenders, second-ranked California captured the 400-yard medley relay final and Elizabeth Pelton won the 200-yard individual medley final on the first day of the Georgia Fall Invitational on Friday at Gabrielsen Natatorium. The two-time defending NCAA champion Golden Bears - with 266 points - sit in second place behind host and third-ranked Georgia (335 points). Tenth-ranked Virginia is third (180) in the seven-team field.
Pelton topped second-place Caitlin Leverenz - her teammate and the defending NCAA 200-IM champion - with a lifetime-best 1:53.39 to the senior's 1:54.30; both Bears clocked automatic NCAA qualifying times. Additionally, Pelton's time is the fastest 200 IM in the nation and makes her the second-fastest swimmer in Cal history - behind only Leverenz and her school record of 1:51.77.
The 200-IM championship final featured a total of four Bears, with freshman Rachel Bootsma (lifetime-best 1:57.01) and freshman Kelly Naze (1:58.91) placing fourth and eighth, respectively, with NCAA B qualifying times. Cal sophomore Caroline Piehl (1:59.96, 11th place) and freshman Alicia Grima (2:00.24, 12th place) also posted NCAA B qualifying times.
Pelton was a double winner, swimming on the winning medley relay in the last final of the night. Junior Cindy Tran, Leverenz, freshman Rachel Bootsma and Pelton posted an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 3:29.86 - the fastest in the nation - to win the medley relay.
Cal posted its fastest time of the season in each of the five Friday swimming finals, including the opening 200-freetyle relay. The Cal A squad of sophomore Kaylin Bing, Bootsma, freshman Rachael Acker and Tran recorded an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:28.78.
Freshman Lauren Driscoll recorded Cal's best finish in the 500 freestyle, swimming an NCAA B qualifying time of 4:44.09 to finish sixth. Sophomore Melanie Klaren also notched a provisional NCAA qualifying time, winning the consolation final in a time of 4:42.72.
In the 50 free, three Bears swam NCAA B qualifying times, with Bing finishing seventh (22.70), Acker placing eighth (22.79) and Tran taking 10th (lifetime-best 22.72).
"Elizabeth and Caitlin making their A cuts in the 200 IM was pretty significant, as was Elizabeth becoming the second-fastest swimmer in Cal history," Cal head coach Teri McKeever said. "This morning I thought we did an okay job in prelims to have a good night of finals. We did a better job tonight of coming in and racing and taking advantage of really good competition. That's the most important thing in the next couple of days - to race different people from different parts of country, stay competitive, stay engaged and be better than we were in Long Beach in the Arena Invitational."
Day two of the meet on Saturday will include the 200-yard medley relay, 400 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 free, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and 800-free relay.
Georgia Fall Invitational
^Automatic NCAA qualifying time