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Bears Open Season at Queen of the Pool

Sep 17, 2014

California opens the 2014-15 season with its annual trip to the Queen of the Pool competition with Cal Poly Friday and Saturday in San Luis Obispo. The unique event features a format in which swimmers compete in five 100-yard races - butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle and individual medley - and the person with the lowest combined time is declared the winner.

Last year, then-freshman Celina Li showed off her versatility by claiming first place in 4:43.10, just ahead of Missy Franklin’s 4:43.22. On her way to the title, Li won three races – the 100 fly, the 100 breast and the 100 IM, while Franklin prevailed in the 100 free and Elizabeth Pelton won the 100 back.

Rachel Bootsma, now a junior, secured the Queen of the Pool title as a freshman in 2012. So will another Cal freshman earn the crown for the third year in a row this weekend? Those who have a shot to extend the streak are newcomers Catherine Ladd, Jasmine Mau, Maija Roses, Cierra Runge and Noemie Thomas.

Six Golden Bears traveled to Australia in August as part of Team USA for the Pan Pacific Championships - swimmers Rachel Bootsma, Missy Franklin, Elizabeth Pelton, Cierra Runge and alumna Caitlin Leverenz, plus head coach Teri McKeever, who led the U.S. women’s squad. The total doesn’t include two others who also swam for their native countries in alumna Lauren Boyle (New Zealand) and senior Camille Cheng (Hong Kong).

In all, Cal representatives came away with nine total medals:

Franklin (4) - 100 back (bronze), 4x200 free relay (gold), 4x100 free relay (silver), 4x100 medley relay (silver)
Boyle (3) - 400 free (bronze) 800 free (silver), 1500 free (silver)
Leverenz (1) - 200 IM (bronze)
Runge (1) - 400 free (silver)

Cal swimmers won four titles at the Phillips 66 National Championships in early August, led by women’s high-piont scorer Missy Franklin, who captured the 200 backstroke, the 100 freestyle, and the 100 backstroke which featured Bears in spots 1 (Franklin), 2 (Rachel Bootsma) and 3 (Elizabeth Pelton). The fourth individual title came from Bootsma, who took the 50 back championship.

With a third-place showing at the 2014 NCAA Championships last March, Cal has now finished among the top three teams in the country six years in a row. The streak started with the Bears’ first national crown in 2009. They followed up with third in 2010, back-to-back titles in 2011 and ‘12 and a runner-up showing in 2013 before last year’s result. In 2014, Cal also came home with a pair of individual titles with Missy Franklin setting an American record on her way to victory in the 200 free, and the quartet of Rachael Acker, Caroline Piehl, Elizabeth Pelton and Franklin winning the 800 free relay.

Collectively and individually, the Golden Bears accumulated a number of academic honors for their performance in the classroom this past year. With an overall GPA of 3.27, Cal earned Scholar All-American status from the CSCAA. In addition, 12 team members were chosen Scholar All-Americans for having a GPA above 3.50 - Rachael Acker, Rachel Bootsma, Camille Cheng, Missy Franklin, Melanie Klaren, Celina Li, Kelly Naze, Elizabeth Pelton, Caroline Piehl, Cindy Tran, Melissa Bates and Kristen Vredeveld. The Pac-12 All-Academic team featured 15 Bears, and Acker was chosen a third-team Capital One Academic All-American.