Cal swimmers continued to turn in stellar performances during the latter portion of the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, as the current and former Bears closed out the championships with nine gold, six silver and three bronze medals for a total of 18 medals.
Day 7 of the meet marked the strongest showing from Cal swimmers, as the U.S. mixed 4×100-meter relay team took gold in the finals with a time of 3 minutes, 23.05 seconds, setting a world record. The team included two former Bears, Nathan Adrian and Missy Franklin, as well as current Stanford swimmer Simone Manuel and OIympian Ryan Lochte.
Adrian played a pivotal role in securing the medal with a 47.29 split in a strong second leg that took the United States from fifth to second place in the event. Franklin’s 53.31 mark in the anchor leg of the event put the United States ahead of the Netherlands by 0.05 seconds, which was just enough to secure gold. Cal signee Abbey Weitzeil also earned a gold medal in the event for her performance in the anchor leg during qualifying heats.
The final day of the championships saw three Bears, Ryan Murphy, Tom Shields and Adrian, claim gold in the men’s 4×100-meter medley relay with a time of 3:29.23 time — 1.83 seconds faster than their preliminary time of 3:31.06. Murphy’s opening 53.05 split in the backstroke paced the team, and Shields’ 50.59 butterfly leg pushed the Americans into the lead for good. Adrian’s anchor freestyle time of 47.41 sealed the deal for the U.S. team.
The United States also took the women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay on Day 5 with a time of 7:45.37 powered by two Bears, Franklin and Katie McLaughlin, as well as Virginia’s Leah Smith and budding American superstar Katie Ledecky. Franklin’s opening split of 1:55.95 kept the Americans in second place to start the race, and McLaughlin’s third leg kept the United States right behind Sweden for the final leg. Ledecky closed out the race to give her country a comfortable victory. Cal’s Cierra Runge also earned gold for her performance in the qualifying heats.
Adrian also snagged a silver medal in his signature 50-meter freestyle event on Day 7, finishing in second with a 21.52 mark, behind Florent Manaudou of France. During the event’s semifinals, Adrian set an American record with a blistering time of 21.37.
Franklin continued to snag medals at the tournament with a silver medal in the 200-meter backstroke. She finished with a 2:06.34 mark that was just a bit short of the mark of 2:05.81 that won Australia’s Emily Seebohm a gold medal. The silver medal gave Franklin a total of five medals at the championships this year, and her career total of medals in the championships is now 16.
Former Bear Lauren Boyle also earned her second silver medal of the meet for New Zealand in the 800-meter freestyle on Day 7 with a 8:17:65 time that became an Oceanic record. She finished behind Ledecky, who dominated the pack en route to a world record with a time of 8:07.39.
The strong performance at the championships from Cal’s contingent speaks volumes about the growth that the program has experienced over the last decade. With a glut of talented swimmers who have helped Cal perform at the NCAA level and continue to shine professionally and with coaches such as Teri McKeever and David Durden, who are coaching for the United States at the championships, the program is truly a powerhouse.
Shiktij Dave is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].