Cal women’s swim wins 4th title in 7 years at NCAA Championships

Karin Goh/Staff

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The powerhouse that is the Cal women’s swim team had a monster weekend at the National Championships. With incredible swims from all parts of the team, the Bears claimed their fourth NCAA Championship title in seven years.

The Bears finished the meet with a school record of 513 points, a dominant performance over runner-up Georgia, who reeled in 452 points, and third place Stanford, who totaled 363 points. The team’s 2015 victory tied the 2011 squad for the most event wins, tallying seven event victories.

Sophomore Missy Franklin seized an incredible win on just the second night of the meet, beating her own American record in the 200-yard freestyle with a stellar 1:39.10, the first female swimmer to ever go under the marked 1:40.00 time.

Franklin also claimed the titles of the 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard individual medley. With depth that shined through in the four different strokes, Franklin was named the NCAA Swimmer of the Year, a title which gave her the perfect send-off as she now makes the transition from a collegiate swimmer to a professional one. Head coach Teri McKeever was also named the NCAA Coach of the Year.

Franklin and fellow Bear Natalie Coughlin are the only members of the Cal women’s swim team to win three individual titles at a single NCAA Championships meet. Now, Franklin will follow in Coughlin’s footsteps by continuing to train professionally at Cal, concluding her collegiate career.

Franklin’s performance was one of the best the Bears have seen, and she walked away from the meet with the most wins in the individual events and relays for Cal ever, with five. She racked up victories alongside her teammates in the 200-yard freestyle relay team and was a member of the 800-yard freestyle relay, alongside freshman Cierra Runge, senior Camille Cheng and junior Elizabeth Pelton. That relay set a meet-record time of 6:50.00.

In the final event of the meet, the team of Franklin, Cheng, junior Rachel Bootsma and sophomore Farida Osman placed second in the 400-yard freestyle relay, setting a school record of 3:09.76.

Aside from Franklin’s success, the team swiped titles across a wide array of events. Osman led her 200-yard medley relay team of Bootsma, sophomore Marina Garcia and freshman Noemie Thomas to victory with a quick freestyle split, despite being 0.17 seconds down against opponent Louisville.

Bootsma continued to build on the point spread with a win in the 100-yard backstroke, for a personal best time of of 50.03, the third best time in the history of the event, while Osman placed fourth in the 100-yard butterfly.

Freshman Cierra Runge proved that her age did not put her at a disadvantage, and she finished as runner up in the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 15:46.46, becoming the highest finishing Bear ever in the event. She also finished second in the 500-yard freestyle.

Seniors across the nation parted the water one last time at the National Championships, and those Bears certainly made a splash.

Senior captain Melanie Klaren finished sixth in the 200-yard backstroke for the second year in a row, with a personal best time of 1:51.83. Klaren also placed third in the 100-yard backstroke, reeling in another personal best time of 51.31, followed by Pelton who tied for fifth.

The Bears had a dream — a dream that was improbable, yet completely possible. All season the team said their goal was to hoist that NCAA trophy as a team. And, after putting together a phenomenal season with constant preparation for the NCAAs, it paid off.

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