Born in 1993 in Fairfield, Conn., Liz Pelton grew up in Baltimore, MD swimming for North Baltimore Aquatic Club. She is from a large swimming family; her dad swam for Pittsburgh, her older brother, Gregory, swam for Harvard, and her other siblings, Mary and William, swam for North Baltimore Aquatic Club with Mary currently training at UCLA. She started swimming at the age 0f 5, despite her club’s rule that you had to be 6 years old to join the team. Pelton burst onto the international stage in 2009 at the Jr. Pan Pacific Championships. Since she’s qualified for the FINA World Championships as a member of Team USA and has been an NCAA champion.
In 2009 Pelton qualified for the FINA World Championships in multiple events. Her best finish was in the 200-meter backstroke, where she finished 6th. She also competed in the 100 and 50-meter backstroke in Rome. She was scheduled to swim the 200 IM as well after finishing 2nd at the US National Championships, but opted out of the event to focus on her 100-meter backstroke. She was replaced by Ariana Kukors in that event.
She graduated high school in 2012 after being homeschooled for years, but mid-high school, she moved from North Baltimore to Florida to train with T2 Aquatics. Pelton committed to swim for Cal Berkeley in college and has been very successful for the Golden Bears.
2009 Jr. Pan Pacific Championships
Pelton also competed in another major international competition in 2009 — the Jr. Pan Pacific Championships. At that meet, she won the the 200-meter backstroke and finished 2nd in the 200-meter IM.
2010 Pan Pacific Championships
In 2010 Pelton was named to the Pan Pacific Championship Team that competed in Irvine, Calif. She earned a silver medal for her 2nd place finish in the 200-meter back at that meet.
In the summer following her high school graduation, Pelton just missed qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. She advanced to finals in the 200-meter backstroke and the 200-meter IM, but finished 3rd in both events; one spot away from making the team. She also made it to semi-finals in the 100-meter freestyle, where she finished 13th.
Pelton joined the Cal Bears in 2012. During her freshman year, she broke the American , NCAA and U.S. Open Records in the 200-yard backstroke twice. At the Pac-12 Championships, she set it at 1:48.39, but that record only stood for about a month before she broke it again at the NCAA Championships with a time of 1:47.84. She also added two 2nd place finishes in the 200-yard IM and 200-yard freestyle.
In her sophomore season at Cal, Pelton finished 2nd in both the 200-yard backstroke na the 800-yard free relay at the NCAA Championships. She was also 4th in the 200 IM and 12th in the 200 freestyle.
Returning for her junior year, the American Studies major had three top-eight finishes at the Pac-12 meet. She jumped into the NCAA Championships with a strong team including training buddy, Missy Franklin. The first day she competed in the 200-yard IM, where she and Franklin were the only two finishers under 1:53 — the duo went 1-2, with Pelton taking the silver. She swapped the 100-yard back for the 200-yard free on day two, where she finished 5th in 51.67, but joined the Cal 800 free relay to win the title, and take the Championship Record. On day three, Pelton only had the 200-yard back, an event which she’s the American Record holder in. Although she qualified in 1st, Pelton didn’t have the greatest performance in finals, and ended up in 7th.
One of Cal’s co-captains for the season in her last collegiate career, Pelton could have started off the season. In July it was announced that Pelton had undergone hand surgery after breaking a bone in practice, and would return in 4-6 weeks.
2013 FINA World Championships
Over the summer of 2013, Pelton qualified for the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona. At the 2013 World Championship Trials, she finished 2nd in both the 100 and 200-meter backstrokes, booking her trip to Barcelona. That summer she won two gold medals as a prelim swimmer in the 400-meter medley relay and the 400-meter freestyle relay. In her individual events, she just missed the podium, finishing 4th in the 100-meter backstroke and 5th in the 200-meter backstroke.
2014 Pan Pacific Championships
Over the summer of 2014, Pelton finished 3rd in the 100-meter backstroke, 5th in the 50-meter backstroke, and 5th in the 200-meter backstroke. She earned a trip to the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia for her performance in the 100 backstroke. At the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, she finished 7th in the 100 backstroke and 9th in the 200 backstroke.
2015 World University Games
After a few successful years on the collegiate and international level, Pelton was selected to the 2015 World University Games roster. The meet, held in South Korea, displayed more of Pelton’s sprint events — she took silver in the 100-meter back, and finished 9th in the 50. She also earned a bronze medal for her preliminary performance in the 400-meter medley relay.