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Top-Ranked Cal Starts New Year at ASU, Arizona

Jan 21, 2015
Cal at Arizona State
Date: Friday, Jan. 23
Time: 12 NOON PT
Location: Tempe, Ariz. (Mona Plummer Aquatic Center)
Live Video: Stream
Cal at Arizona
Date: Saturday, Jan. 24
Time: 11 AM PT
Location: Tucson, Ariz. (Hillenbrand Aquatic Center)
Live TV: Pac-12 Networks
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With the start of the spring semester now underway, the No. 1-ranked Golden Bears kick off the heart of their dual-meet schedule, starting with a Friday match-up at Arizona State at 12 noon PT and a visit to No. 14 Arizona Saturday. The Cal-UA meet will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks beginning at 11 a.m. PT.

The Golden Bears swept the Sun Devils and Wildcats in convincing fashion at home last season, defeating ASU, 229-69, and Arizona, 190-109. However, the last time Cal traveled to the desert, the Bears fell at UA, 168.5-112.5, before rebounding to upend ASU, 177-121.

The Cal swimmers will be back in competition for the first time since an impressive performance at the Georgia Invitational Dec. 5-7. The Bears registered a combined 16 times faster than the NCAA A standard and more than 50 lower than the NCAA B standard. Four of the marks rank No. 1 in the country - Elizabeth Pelton (200 back and 200 individual medley), Missy Franklin (200 free) and the 800 free relay.

For her effort at the meet, Pelton was named the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month for December.

After this weekend’s racing, the Bears return home to Spieker Aquatics Complex for their final three meets of the year - Jan. 30 vs. USC (2 p.m.), Jan. 31 vs. UCLA (new time: 12 noon) and Feb. 14 vs. Stanford (11 a.m.).

Junior Elizabeth Pelton was named the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month for December after posting NCAA-leading times in both the 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard individual medley at the Georgia Invitational. She won the 200 back in 1:49.00 and the 200 IM in 1:52.93. In addition, she was runner-up in the 200 free to teammate Missy Franklin with a time of 1:43.13, which is No. 3 in the country. She also posted the No. 3 time among NCAA swimmers in the 100 back (51.31). On the 800 free relay, Pelton swam the anchor leg, leading the Bears to victory in a time (6:55.95) that is more than five seconds ahead of any other collegiate relay to date. This is the second-career Swimmer of the Month honor for Pelton and the 13th overall for Cal, the most of any Pac-12 school since the award’s inception.

Cal and Georgia are tied for the No. 1 position in the latest CSCAA rankings (through Jan. 15). The Bears first moved into the top spot following the Georgia Invitational, despite finishing second to the host Bulldogs (who scored points with diving while Cal’s divers remained in Berkeley to train). The Bears started the year in fourth and moved to fifth before jumping to No. 1.

Cal enters its Pac-12 dual season with 25 swims that rank among the top eight in the country in their respective events, including four that are best in the nation. Junior Elizabeth Pelton owns claim to the top spot in the NCAA in both the 200 back (1:49.00) and 200 IM (1:52.93), while sophomore Missy Franklin is No. 1 in the 200 free (1:41.23) and the 800 free relay’s time of 6:55.95 is more than five seconds ahead of any other team. The Bears are particularly strong in the 200 free and 100 back, where they own four of the top eight times in the country.

Cal Swimmers in NCAA Top 8
(through Jan. 20, 2015)

  • 100 free – 2. Missy Franklin 47.63; 5. Farida Osman 47.93
  • 200 free – 1. Missy Franklin 1:41.23; 3. Elizabeth Pelton 1:43.13; 5. Cierra Runge 1:44.12; 8. Camille Cheng 1:44.58
  • 500 free – 2. Cierra Runge 4:34.81
  • 1650 free – 8. Cierra Runge 15:57.70
  • 100 back – 2. Rachel Bootsma 51.20; 3. Elizabeth Pelton 51.31; 5. Missy Franklin 51.85; 6. Melanie Klaren 51.86
  • 200 back – 1. Elizabeth Pelton 1:49.00; 2. Missy Franklin 1:49.23
  • 200 breast – 8. Marina Garcia 2:09.16
  • 100 fly – 5. Farida Osman 51.92
  • 200 fly – 5. Noemie Thomas 1:54.63
  • 200 IM – 1. Elizabeth Pelton 1:52.93; 2. Missy Franklin 1:52.99; 5. Celina Li 1:55.64
  • 400 IM – 2. Celina Li 4:05.13
  • 200 free relay – 2. Franklin, Bootsma, Bing, Osman 1:27.51
  • 400 free relay – 2. Franklin, Cheng, Pelton, Osman 3:11.15
  • 800 free relay – 1. Runge, Cheng, Franklin, Pelton 6:55.95
  • 200 medley relay – 3. Bootsma, Garcia, Thomas, Osman 1:36.82
  • 400 medley relay – 4. Pelton, Garcia, Thomas, Franklin 3:31.25

Six Golden Bears - three past, three future - competed for the United States at the FINA Short-Course World Championships Dec. 3-7 in Doha, Qatar. The list featured alumnae Natalie Coughlin, Caitlin Leverenz and Madison Kennedy, as well as incoming freshmen Kathleen Baker, Amy Bilquist and Abbey Weitzeil. Together, they contributed to medals in four different relays. In particular, the silver-medal-winning 4x50m free relay featured a Golden Bear slant in the final as all four members - Kennedy, Weitzeil, Coughlin, Bilquist - had Cal connections (and Baker swam in the prelims). Individually, Baker was sixth in the 100m back, Kennedy took fourth in the 50m free and Leverenz was sixth in the 400 IM.

Golden Bear swimmers posted 16 times that reached the NCAA A qualifying standard, at the Georgia Fall Invitational Dec. 5-7 in Athens, Ga. The five individuals who reached the A level were: Missy Franklin (100, free, 200 free, 200 back, 200 IM), Elizabeth Pelton (200 free, 100 back, 200 back, 200 IM), Cierra Runge (500 free), Rachel Bootsma (100 back) and Celina Li (400 IM). All five relays also qualified for nationals. In addition, Runge set a school record in the 1000 free (9:27.22) on her way to an NCAA B time in the 1650 free (1:57.70).

Anne Kastler led Cal on both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards and Eleanor Smart paced the Bears on platform at the Bruin Invitational Jan. 17-19. Kastler took sixth on 1-meter (535.30) and ninth on 3-meter (536.30), while Smart had the team’s best finish of the weekend when she finished third on platform with a score of 496.00.

Four of the top five recruits in the country, including a trio of U.S. National team members who will compete at the 2015 World Championships, highlight a six-member California women’s swimming & diving recruiting class announced Nov. 13. Joining the Golden Bears for the 2015-16 season are Kathleen Baker, Amy Bilquist, Jennifer Campbell, Katie McLaughlin, Phoebe Lamay and Abbey Weitzeil.

Baker, in the 100m back, McLaughlin, in the 200m fly, and Weitzeil in the 400m free relay, will represent Team USA at the World Championships next summer in Kazan, Russia. All three also swam at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia, the top international competition of 2014, earlier this year. Bilquist, meanwhile, captured five total medals, including four gold, at the 2014 Junior Pan Pacific Championships. Campbell is a local product out of Palo Alto who is a two-time section champion in the 200-yard free, and Lamay finished eighth on the 1-meter springboard at the 2014 national diving championships.

According to, Weitzeil is considered the nation’s No. 2 recruit, with Baker No. 3, McLaughlin No. 4 and Bilquist No. 5.