Nov. 29, 2012
AUSTIN - California's impact on the sport of women's swimming will be on display this week in the AT&T Winter National Championships, which will include Golden Bear recruits Missy Franklin, Celina Li and Abi Speers competing in the meet from Thursday, Nov. 29, through Saturday, Dec. 1, at the University of Texas. The action begins with preliminary heats at 9 a.m. CT and ends with finals beginning at 5 p.m. CT each day at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.
Winter nationals is a short-course yards meet - the same format as collegiate competitions - and current and former Bears currently hold records in various events swum in short-course yards. While Franklin, the multiple Olympic gold medalist, has set her share of records in long-course and short-course meter races, she does not currently have any records in short-course yards; neither do Li nor Speers.
On Thursday, Franklin and Li will face off in the 200-yard individual medley. Current Golden Bear All-American Caitlin Leverenz set the American and U.S. Open record of 1:51.77 when she won the NCAA title in that event last March. Afterwards, Franklin and Speers will swim the 50-yard freestyle - with Cal legend Natalie Coughlin holding the meet record of 21.46 in that race.
Friday will start off with Li racing in the 400-yard IM; Leverenz set the 400-yard IM American record of 3:57.89 when taking second at 2012 NCAAs. Franklin's first race of the day will be the 200 freestyle against soon-to-be teammate Li. Alumna and Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer set the meet record (1:42.26) in the 200 free when she won the 2009 title at the U.S. Short-Course National Championships.
In Friday's 100-yard backstroke, Franklin and Li will once again face off. Franklin won the Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter back last summer in London, but Coughlin's dominance still looms large in the 100-yard back, for which she holds American (49.97), U.S. Open (49.97) and meet (50.64) records. The Cal great clocked that 49.97 in 2002 when winning her second of three straight NCAA titles in that event.
Cal freshman Elizabeth Pelton's American record (1:49.16) in the 200-yard back might be in jeopardy on Saturday considering that Franklin won a gold medal in the long-course version of the event in London and set the world record (2:00.03) in the short-course 200-meter back. Li and Franklin will face off for the last time at winter nationals in the 100 free. Coughlin holds both the American (46.84) and meet (46.85) records for this event.
The last event of the day that includes a future Bear is Li's race in the 200-yard butterfly. It is the only event in which a future Bear is racing that a current Bear or Cal alumna does not hold some type of record, though Cal icon Mary T. Meagher still holds the U.S. Open record (2:05.96) in the long-course 200-meter version of this race. She set that mark in 1981.
NBC will show a condensed version of the meet on Sunday, Dec. 2, from 11 a.m.-noon PT on the West Coast; check local listings for times in your area.
The current Bears return to action on Friday, Nov. 30, on the first day of the Georgia Fall Invitational in Athens, Ga.