June 27, 2012
OMAHA, Neb. - One of the newest Golden Bears edged the biggest star in California women's swimming history on Wednesday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials, as Rachel Bootsma finished second in the 100-meter backstroke final at the CenturyLink Center to likely earn her way to London. Star alumna Natalie Coughlin - who won the last two Olympic gold medals in the 100 backstroke - placed third and will not defend those Olympic titles this summer. Bootsma, who will be a freshman at Cal this fall, likely captured her first Olympic berth, pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events.
In a bit of an upset, former Bear Jessica Hardy placed third in the 100-meter breaststroke final - and out of Olympic contention - with a time of 1:06.53. The world record-holder in the 100 breaststroke, Hardy is seeking to compete in her first Olympics.
It was another strong night for Caitlin Leverenz (2:10.51) and incoming freshman Elizabeth Pelton (2:11.37), who posted the fastest and second-fastest times, respectively, in the 200-meter individual medley semifinals and qualified for Thursday night's final. Leverenz, who will be a senior in the fall, finished second in the 400-IM final on June 25 to likely clinch her first Olympic berth. Pelton - who had qualified for the 100-back final - scratched out of that race to focus on the 200 IM.
Alum Dana Vollmer qualified for tomorrow night's 200-freestyle final by clocking the third-fastest time in tonight's semifinals (1:57.81). Catherine Breed, a sophomore in the fall, did not reach the 200-free final with her 14th-place finish (1:59.64).
The Olympic Trials continue on Thursday, with women's prelims and semifinals in the 200 butterfly and finals in the 200 free and 200 IM.