5th-Ranked Amy Bilquist Verbally Commits to Be a Cal ‘Baby Bear’

Carmel, Indiana sprinter Amy Bilquist, the 5th-ranked recruit in the class of 2015, has made her college decision, and will be a California Golden Bear.

Bilquist is a prototypical sprinter, at around 6’2″ or 6’3″ tall, and won a trio of individual USA Swimming Junior National Championships this summer.

Bilquist’s best times in yards:

  • 50 free – 22.15
  • 100 free – 48.93
  • 200 free – 1:47.44
  • 100 back – 52.58
  • 200 back – 1:56.33
  • 100 fly – 54.33
  • 200 IM – 2:02.52

This gives Cal their 3rd top-5 recruit in this women’s class, which probably pulls them slightly ahead of their bay-area rivals Stanford in terms of overall class rankings to this point. #4 Katie McLaughlin and #3 Kathleen Baker previously pledged to Cal.

Cal has been searching for a lock-down freestyle sprinter to end their relays ever since Liv Jensen graduated. Sophomore Farida Osman has shown some potential to fill that roll early this reason for Cal, and with Bilquist’s addition, the Golden Bear free relays start to look as impressive as their medleys.

While best known for her sprint freestyles, Bilquist is also a top-tier backstroker. She’ll overlap with Liz Pelton and Rachel Bootsma for a year, but after that could contribute for Cal on the medley relays there as well. The 100 back is the event that earned Bilquist a spot on Team USA’s Short Course World Championships team in December.

As an individual, Bilquist is already fast enough to score at NCAA’s as a freshman in the 50 free, and has two years to improve that standing. She’s also already on the cusp of individual scoring-worthy times at NCAA’s in the 100 free and 100 backstroke as well.

Bilquist swims at Carmel High School and with the Carmel Swim Club. She won the 2014 Indiana State Championships in both the 50 and 100 freestyles shortly after moving there from Arizona, where she spent her freshman and sophomore years of high school.

She chose Cal over Arizona, USC and Georgia.


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this was my dream get for CAL….as an Indy swimming native I’m SO HAPPY for both Amy and Cal! Woot Woot!




Teri McKeever is obviously a great coach, but I’m surprised she keeps getting these awesome backstroke recruits. She’s gotten some of the best high school talent EVER in Tran, Bootsma, Pelton, Franklin, and all saw their backstrokes backslide.

Yet the studs like Baker and Bilquist still see something in the program!


Very odd comment and post.
Tran won 2 NCAA titles- albeit her junior and senior year were not ideal she still contributed and was very valuable and productive.
Bootsma and Pelton had phenomenal freshman years and although they regressed during there sophomore year, let’s see how their careers play out.
Missy is Missy and has the bigger 2016 goals in mind. She will be fine due to McKeever’s plan.
Overall, I would say these new high schoolers are very wise to choose Cal, I wish then luck and I don’t see how their backstroke will backslide – the U.S. National teams prove otherwise.


with all due respect that’s just not true. She took Tran & Bootsma to a 50.0 100 back. took Pelton to a 1:47 2back and got her to worlds AND the second best time in the WORLD in 2013.

that wasn’t “residue” from other coaches…that was HER.

let’s also not forget Coughlin is a 2x 100 back olympic gold medalist.

again, the facts don’t lie so please, everyone, stop the convenient Teri bashing.


I kind of agree with floppy. all these girls that have gone to Cal recently were 59 backstrokers and were significantly slower this summer. significantly! of course, if you get 5 studs, one or two will be ok probably.
congrats amy….very talented young lady


i just don’t see the same level of scrutiny on other coaches. and it’s uncomfortable seeing Teri get an influx of this criticism given her aforementioned backstroke success and other success with people like Couglin, Leverenz, Vollmer, Jensen, Boyle, Isakovic to name a ver few. For example: Biesel has had minimal, if any, progression under Greg Troy in 4 IM or other key events. Schmitt has had a bad go at with with Bowman post-Olympics, and his other studs this year Dwyer, McLean did not improve. Smoliga still has yet to make a LC national team, and Romano has never broken through individually, from Baurle and the Georgia crew We should all just give these coaches and swimmers some slack… Read more »

samuel huntington

people have definitely criticized Bowman on this site.

And regards to Cal. Bootsma has gotten slower any way you look at it. Missy also seems to be struggling (possibly back spasms). Pelton has also gotten slightly slower.


Beisel was the wunderkind of the US team in 2008, going 4:32.8 to qualify for the Olympic team. She was not able to go any faster than 4:34 at any meet until 2011 (the year after she came to UF) and popped a 4:31 to become the 2011 World Champion. She posted a PB of 4:31.2 in London to become the Olympic silver medalist in the 400 IM, all while carrying a full classload at UF for four years. She would have likely been 4:30 this summer in Australia under better conditions. I would expect you’ll see her improve again in Kazan. Gator postgrads usually do best the year after they graduate and can focus on long course swimming exclusively.… Read more »


Like I said, Teri McKeever is a great coach. Exhibits A-G are Natalie Coughlin (one of my favorite swimmers ever, but hasn’t done as well in Durden’s training group). I suspect (hope?) 2014 was just an off year for some of these ladies. One rough year doesn’t mean it’s a bad program – just a little surprised that current high school seniors are giving Cal backstroke as much benefit of the doubt as I do. If it was MY swimming career, I’d be a little wary of a program with ENORMOUS talent but no recent individual improvements: Tran was the HS national record holder, until Bootsma broke it. Pelton was a SCY American Record holder before getting to college, and… Read more »


yea natalie has been doing terrible! career best times at 32? absolutely terrible.


First of all congrats to Amy! She will content for NCAA titles in the years to come. Now, lets talk about reality…. You have to remember that BIG programs like Cal, UGA, USC, Auburn, etc.. have built their reputations as some of the best programs in the country in the last decade (or more). The name recognition is well beyond their performances in the last year or so. Young athletes in our sport have olympic dreams, and these programs have consistent contribution the US National Team year in year out. These athletes ‘think’ that these programs have the ability to get them to that level (and they do for most cases). That’s why these programs keep getting excellent talents. And… Read more »


(Hopefully this won’t be a dupe as didn’t see my original comment posted) Sometimes it’s not always ALL about the swimming. These young women obviously are seeing something in McKeever’s style of coaching that they personally find very appealing for them. Whether it be commiting to a nourishing environment that focuses on their personal growth & development, or fostering a sense of belonging to a family whose members will have each other’s back throughout their lives long after their college years. Or perhaps it’s the swimming too 🙂 Training on a daily basis with Olympians and developing under the tutelage of a coach who will hopefully help take them to the next level of international competition beyond NCAAs. There’s always… Read more »


Floppy, I do agree with you that Cal didn’t have the best 2014 NCAA year, including those backstrokers. Bootsma and Pelton did well their freshmen year, but this second year wasn’t as good, of course. Just pointing out that others also didn’t do so well in backstroke this past NCAAs…this includes super speedy Smoliga, whom many thought would win…she ended up winning the B final… However, I’m more in line of thinking that Cal/McKeever has done extremely well with her backstroke swimmers…starting with M Chiang winning NCAA in 99 (after being second to Stanford’s C Fox in 98); Haley Cope’s success in short course as well as making it to the Olympics along with Natalie C; Helen Silver’s 200 back… Read more »


Can we all please try to remember that these young athletes are also people and have more things to consider when choosing a university than their swimming times! Amy’s hard work and success in the pool enabled her to choose between scholarships to some of the best institutions of higher learning this country has to offer, but maybe Cal was better for whatever area she wanted to study. It IS one of THE best schools in the world for a number of subjects! It’s also in a great location (I wish I lived there). She also may have friends there, and even if Teri were not an internationally respected coach, she sure seems like the kind of person I’d want… Read more »


Congrats to Amy, Teri, and Kristen. Also congrats to the Bilquist family and the coaches at Carmel and Scottsdale for producing such a great swimmer and young woman. All the best athletically and academically at Cal. Roll on you Bears!


Congrats to Amy and Family!!! The Bears are lucky to have you!!!!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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