April 9, 2012
BERKELEY - The honors keep rolling in for the NCAA and Pac-12 champion California women's swimming and diving team, as the Pac-12 Conference named head coach Teri McKeever its Women's Swimming Coach of the Year and junior Caitlin Leverenz its Women's Swimmer of the Year, Commissioner Larry Scott announced on Monday. This marks the fifth conference coaching award for McKeever and the first for Leverenz, who led the Golden Bears to the Pac-12 team championship in February and the NCAA team title in March.
The highly decorated Leverenz most recently won the Honda Sports Award for Swimming - signifying her as the top collegiate swimmer this season - for her stellar junior year. With the collegiate season complete, McKeever is preparing to lead the United States to the Summer Olympics as the head coach of the U.S. women in London. McKeever, who just completed her 20th season as Cal's head coach, earned an Olympic promotion this year, as she worked as a U.S. assistant coach during the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She will likely work with a host of Bears - former, current and future - in London.
Leverenz is one of those potential U.S. Olympians, who produced one of the finest seasons in Cal history this year. At the conference meet, she won the 200-yard breaststroke (then-school record 2:05.49) and 400-yard individual medley (then-school record 3:58.46) and swam on the winning 400-yard medley relay (then-NCAA, U.S. Open, Pac-12, school and pool-record time of 3:28.26) en route to claiming the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet award. She also broke Natalie Coughlin's school record in the 200 IM with her preliminary time of 1:54.35 and broke the record again in the 200-IM final (1:52.43 to take second place) as well as at the NCAA Championships.
A few weeks later, she earned the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month laurel for February; she also garnered the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month accolade for December.
At NCAAs, Leverenz set American, U.S. Open, NCAA, Pac-12, school and pool records in the 200 IM with a time of 1:51.77, won the 200 breaststroke in a school- and pool-record time of 2:04.76 and placed second in the 400 IM with an American- and school-record time of 3:57.89. Leverenz swam the breaststroke leg of Cal's winning 200-medley relay as the Bears posted American, U.S. Open, NCAA, Pac-12, school and pool records with its time of 1:34.24. She also swam the breaststroke leg of the Bears' winning 400-medley relay, which posted U.S. Open, NCAA, Pac-12, school and pool records with its time of 3:28.10.
Leverenz claimed the CSCAA Swimmer of the Meet award and McKeever earned the CSCAA Coach of the Meet honor at NCAAs, as Leverenz and the Bears repeated as national champions and the program won its third title in four seasons.
McKeever won the first Pac-12 Coach of the Year award after winning the last Pac-10 Coach of the Year honor in 2011. She also captured the Pac-10 laurel in 2009 and in 1999. Cal won its NCAA titles in three of those years - 2009, 2011 and 2012 - while the Bears placed fifth at NCAAs in 1999. The Bears won the conference title twice - 2009 and 2012 - when McKeever won her conference kudos; they placed second in 2011 and third in 1999.
Besides potentially coaching Bears on the U.S. Olympic team this summer, McKeever will see some of her former protégés in London competing for their native countries. They include senior and Slovenian luminary Sara Isakovic and alumna and New Zealand star Lauren Boyle, who have already qualified for the Olympics.