Finishing in second place at the Pinch a Penny All Florida Invitational was not the statement the Cal women’s swimming team was hoping to make overall, however, many individual performances trumped that, and the Bears are marching out of Florida with their heads held high after this weekend.
In only their second event of the 2014-2015 season, the Bears lost to Florida, a team that finished three spots behind them at the NCAA Championships last year.
“Florida has a great team, so it was great to just see our girls race against them,” said assistant head coach Kristen Cunnane. “I think it’s just a good place to build from and that people know that they have different things to work on. Now we have a good section of training before our next home dual meet, and we can really put good work in.”
Taking place in Gainesville, Florida, the meet comprised of seven women’s teams, but the Gators maintained their early lead from the first day of competition. They pulled off the victory with 956 points, winning the meet for the fifth time in a row.
Cal was not as close as they would have liked, pulling in 861 points, almost 100 below Florida. After the Bears, Florida Gulf Coast finished in third with an even larger margin, receiving 661 points. Florida State, Miami, Nova Southeastern, and North Florida followed suit, respectively.
On Friday, the first day of competition, sophomore Celina Li followed her winning performance at the Cal Poly Queen of the Pool meet last week with a win in the 200-yard individual medley in 1:58.81. Junior Elizabeth Pelton finished closely behind her in second place in 1:59.09. The Bears finished in second place in three other events, the 500-yard free, the 200-yard free relay and the 400-yard medley relay.
Sophomore Missy Franklin stole the day on Saturday, winning two events. In the 200-yard freestyle, she finished in 1:46.37, with second-place teammate Camille Cheng finishing three second behind her in 1:49.42. Franklin also took home first place in the 100-yard backstroke in 54:05.
Cal swimmers finished in first place on the second day of competition in two other events as well. Junior Kelly Naze won the 400-yard IM in 4:17.80. In the 800-yard free relay, the Cal squad of Caroline Piehl, Catherine Breed, Cierra Runge, and Cheng, finished in 7:20.65.
The third day of competition continued with good events from the Bears, including Pelton beating Franklin in the 200-yard back by a little over two seconds. Li’s good meet continued as she was able to put together another phenomenal performance, winning the 200-yard butterfly. However, sophomore Marina Garcia was able to beat Li in the 200-yard breaststroke.
“I thought over the course of the whole weekend there were really encouraging things,” Cunnane said.“ Li’s performances throughout the meet were very impressive, and Marina Garcia’s 200 backstroke today; A lot of exciting things from a lot of different people.”
The Bears will use what they learned from this meet to their advantage when they head back out to the University of Georgia, after competing in three consecutive meets at home and one on the road.
“I think its just a good experience to travel across the country and race and deal with the time change and a different pool and a different environment,” Cunnane said. “So I think that’s just a good experience.”
Alaina Getzenberg covers women’s swim. Contact her at [email protected]