The World University Games held in South Korea were no different from most major swimming championships in that the leaderboards were littered with names from the Cal men’s and women’s swimming programs, which combined for 15 medals at the event.
The Bears were led by rising senior Josh Prenot, whose three medals were the most of any Cal swimmer. Other standouts were rising senior Jacob Pebley, who secured two medals, and incoming freshman Abbey Weitzeil, who captured three medals.
For such a young swimmer, Weitzeil really impressed by picking up the silver medal in the 100-meter freestyle. She played a key role in beating a World University Games record in the 400-meter free relay by swimming the opening leg in a time of 54.78 seconds en route to a 3:38.12 win. Her Cal teammate senior Elizabeth Pelton helped the United States qualify for the final by swimming in the preliminary heat. She also swam in another relay — the final of the 400-meter backstroke — this time securing a bronze medal. Pelton also got her third medal at the event, a silver medal, in the 100-meter backstroke. Rachel Bootsma, another Cal rising senior, finished right behind Pelton in the event and brought Team USA yet another bronze medal.
While Pelton and Weitzeil were anchoring the efforts of the Cal women at the event, Prenot and Pebley were making the men’s side look great. Prenot, especially, excelled, with two of his three medals being golds. The rising senior won the 200-meter breaststroke and proved himself to be one of the event’s strongest all-around swimmers, tying for the win in the 200-meter individual medley and still going home with a gold medal. He also reconfirmed this distinction with a near repeat in the 400-meter version of the event, but he came up short of passing fellow American Jay Litherland and landed only a silver medal.
Meanwhile, Pebley added one more gold medal to Team USA’s haul. Pebley, one of the Bears’ main backstroking forces, won the gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke. He was busy throughout the tournament, reaching the semifinals in the 50-meter backstroke and coming up just short of a medal, with a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter version of the event. While he couldn’t add a medal in these events, he wouldn’t go home with only a single medal around his neck. He swam the backstroke leg of Team USA’s 400-meter medley relay, which ended with a silver medal.
Seth Stubblefield, who completed his Bear career in the 2014-15 season, added another gold medal to those of Cal-affiliated swimmers. Stubblefield swam an impressive opening leg to the 400-meter freestyle relay in a time of 48.86, which helped the American team place first. His relay leg was six-tenths of a second faster than the time he managed to put up in the 100-meter freestyle, in which he got fourth place and just missed getting another medal for Cal.
The summer months are big ones for Cal’s swimmers and all swimmers in general, as the swimmers spend much of their time racing at various international competitions beyond even the World University Games, such as June’s Santa Clara Grand Prix and August’s World Championships. Bears have a tradition of excelling at these events, and the swimmers on the team often go into the fall season especially prepared to perform well because of their intense summer competitions, meaning that this success speaks well for Cal’s outlook in the 2015-16 season.