Cierra Runge is a 6’4″ freestyle specialist born March 6, 1996, and raised in West Chester, Pa. Runge was inspired by swimming when watching the Olympics as a four-year-old, and her parents immediately signed her up for swim lessons at the local Y. Although Runge was a versatile freestyle swimmer with the ability to race anything from the 50 to the mile, she was a sprinter for most of her younger swimming career. When Runge began focusing more on the distance events, and the transition paid off.
As a freshman at Cal Berkeley Runge made a huge impact at the Pac 12 Championships. After winning the 800 freestyle relay (breaking the NCAA and American record), she followed that up the next day by winning the 500 freestyle, breaking the NCAA record. She then finished fourth in the 200 freestyle and won the 1,650 freestyle, breaking the Pac 12 Meet Record. She was named Pac 12 Swimmer of the Meet.
After her freshman season, Runge announced that she would transfer to the University of Wisconsin after taking a year to focus on Olympic preparations in Arizona.
At her first ever B1G Championships, Runge placed 2nd in the 500 free (4:37.38), 200 free (1:43.78), and 1,650 (15:51.72). She also swam on Wisconsin’s 2nd place 800 free relay and title winning 400 free relay.
Runge’s lone season as a Badger garnered All-America status in the 400 free relay and B final bids in the 200 and 500 frees at the NCAA championships. She broke school records in the 200, 500, 1000, and 1650 freestyles, in addition to swimming as a member of record-setting 400 and 800 freestyle relays.
On November 20, 2017, it was reported that Cierra was leaving the Wisconsin Badger swimming and diving program and would transfer to continue her educational and swimming career at Arizona State in January 2018.
In her return to the Pac-12, Runge placed 3rd in the 500 free (4:35.13), 6th in the 200 free (1:44.29), and 2nd in the 1,650 (15:51.72).
At the NCAA Championships, Runge placed 4th in the 500 free (4:35.39), 11th in the 200 free (1:43.76), and and 8th in the 1,650 (15:53.72).
At her final Pac-12 championships, Runge placed 3rd in the 500 free (4:36.06), 5th in the 200 free (1:44.41), and 3rd in the 1,650 (15:53.51).
2012 Olympic Trials
At the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Runge finished 25th in the 100m freestyle and 26th in the 50m freestyle.
2013 FINA World Junior Championships
Runge won four medals at the 2013 FINA World Junior Championships, which included a gold in the 800m freestyle relay, a silver in the 400m mixed freestyle relay as well as a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle relay and the 400m medley relay.
2014 US Nationals/Pan Pacs
Runge earned a spot on the 2013-2014 U.S. National Junior Team 100m freestyle. She also made the 2014 Pan Pacific Championship Team where she took silver in the 400m freestyle, finished fourth in the 1500m freestyle and fifth as a member of the 800 freestyle relay.
2015 World Championships
At the 2015 World Championships, Cierra started the meet with the prelims of the 400 free, where she finished just out of the final heat in 9th. She then swam prelims of the 800 free relay (1:58.65) which went onto win gold in finals.
2016 US Olympic Trials
Runge finished fifth in the 200 Freestyle and earned a spot on the US team for the 4x200m Free Relay.
2016 Olympic Games
Runge won her first Olympic medal as part of the preliminary lineup for the 800 Free Relay, which went on to win gold in finals.
2017 World Championships
Runge won gold as part of the 800 Free Relay at the 2017 FINA World Championships, once again swimming on the prelims relay (1:59.17).