Missy Franklin-led Bears shatter American relay record at 1st day of Pac-12 Championship

Karin Goh/Staff

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On the first day of the Pac-12 Championships, the No. 1 Cal women’s swim team made waves by absolutely smashing the American record in the 800-yard freestyle relay with an astonishing time of 6:50.18. The relay team — consisting of freshman Cierra Runge, sophomore Missy Franklin, junior Elizabeth Pelton and senior Caroline Piehl — got off to a fast start, with Runge completing the first 200 yards in 1:42.73, the-third best time in the country this year and the fifth-best time in school history.

After Runge’s impressive swim, Pelton swam a time of 1:43.29, followed by Piehl, who finished with a time of 1:43.48. Franklin reeled in the win for the team, closing the race with an incredibly impressive 1:40.68. The Bears’ team time of 6:50.18 pummeled second-place Stanford’s time of 7:00.84.

Despite a great victory from Cal’s “A” relay team, the “B” relay team of Rachel Acker, Camille Cheng, Catherine Breed and Melanie Klaren missed the NCAA qualification standard with a time of 7:01.60.

But the Bears also set a meet record in the 200-yard medley relay with the team of Rachel Bootsma, Marina Garcia, Noemie Thomas and Farida Osman, who set a record for the fastest time in the nation this year with an incredible 1:35.42. This was Cal’s first victory in the 200-yard medley relay since 2012.

Head coach Teri McKeever is proud of what her team has started at the Pac-12 championships. The Bears scored a maximum of 128 points, ahead of No. 3 Stanford, who scored 112 points, and No. 11 Arizona, who finished the day with a point total of 104.

“I think the two wins are huge for momentum because the relays are such an awesome part of the meet and get the whole team involved,” McKeever said to Cal Athletics. “I think it gives people a lot of confidence going into the next three days.”

In the four-day meet, which started Wednesday, the team has already demonstrated its ultimate goal and its capability of capturing its fourth Pac-12 championships title.

“I’m really proud of them because we haven’t always been firing on all cylinders,” McKeever said to Cal Athletics. “I thought that was pretty exciting.”

Isabella Busacca covers women’s swim. Contact her at [email protected].