The first four days of the 2015 FINA World Championships have seen several current and former Cal swimmers, such as Missy Franklin and Lauren Boyle, make waves in the pools of Kazan, Russia. With another four days remaining in the championships, many more Bears wait on deck for their chance to shine on the international stage and add to a growing list of accomplishments.
Ten Bears swam on the opening day of the championships, Aug. 2, and former Cal swimmer Franklin ended the day with a bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle relay. Franklin put the U.S. team — also composed of Arizona’s Margo Greer and two Stanford swimmers, Lia Neal and Simone Manuel — in second place after swimming the leadoff leg in 53.68. The United States finished third with a time of 3:34.61, behind both Australia (3:31.48) and the Netherlands (3:33.67). Cal signee Abbey Weitzeil was also awarded with a bronze medal for her performance in the qualifying heats.
Boyle, who swam for Cal from 2007-10, earned a silver medal on Day 3 of the championships in the 1,500-meter freestyle with a mark of 15:40.14, breaking her own New Zealand national record. The race featured some other significant history, as U.S. swimmer Katie Ladecky’s 15:25.48 mark was a world record for the event. Boyle’s time was the third best in the event’s history with a mark that is behind only Ladecky and Denmark’s Lotte Friis in the history books.
Franklin’s busy schedule continued to play out on Days 3 and 4 as she showcased her talents with a 59.40 mark in the 100-meter backstroke final, which earned her fifth place in the event, while incoming Cal freshman Kathleen Baker’s 59.99 mark earned her eighth. Day 4 saw Franklin capture a bronze medal in the 200-meter freestyle event with a 1:55.49 mark that was just behind Ladecky’s 1:55.16 time and world-record holder Federica Pellegrini’s 1:55.32 time.
The male contingent of Cal swimmers has recently gotten things started in Kazan, with Day 4 featuring current Bear Ryan Murphy’s 4×100-meter mixed medley relay team shattering a world record with a 3:42.33 time in qualification. Murphy’s blistering 52.18 leadoff backstroke leg kicked things off for the rest of the U.S. team which also featured Arizona’s Kevin Cordes, USC’s Kendyl Stewart and Neal — and qualified for the final of the event. The team finished ahead of Russia’s 3:45.87 time and Australia’s 3:46.52 time.
The mixed medley relay finals saw two Bears — Murphy and Katie McLaughlin, who will be a freshman at UC Berkeley in the fall — snag a silver medal for the United States with a 3:43.27 time that finished just behind Great Britain, whose time of 3:41.71 broke the record the Americans had just set in qualification. Murphy’s leadoff leg clocked in at 53.31 and McLaughlin’s butterfly leg came in at 57.56.
Former Cal swimmer and three-time Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian finished fifth in the 100-meter freestyle with a 48.36 time amid very tight competition, with the top eight all having times under 48.5. Another performance of note thus far from the men’s side was former Bear Tom Shields — the only U.S. swimmer competing in the event — grabbing eighth place with a time of 1:56.17 in the 200-meter butterfly final.
The final days of the competition will see several Cal swimmers look to shine. Murphy still looms in the backdrop with his signature 200-meter backstroke, and Adrian has his 50-meter freestyle event remaining. With several high-profile swimmers still waiting for their opportunity to shine, there are many Bears who are very much still in the mix to earn medals for their home countries and make the final stretch of the championships exciting to follow.
Shiktij Dave is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].