Cal Freshman Cierra Runge Breaks NCAA Record in 500 Free at Pac-12 Championships

After prelims, we speculated that Cal freshman Cierra Runge was blooming into a star before our eyes.

In finals, that transformation is complete.

Runge now has the fastest time in NCAA history, with her 4:31.90 beating out the 4:32.53 NCAA Record done by Georgia’s Brittany MacLean at NCAA’s last year.

See full day 2 finals recap here.

That swim is also the 9th-fastest in history, and ranks Runge 4th on the all-time rankings.

New Top 5:

  1. Katie Ledecky – 4:26.58
  2. Katie Hoff – 4:30.47
  3. Dagny Knutson – 4:31.18
  4. Cierra Runge – 4:31.90
  5. Brittany MacLean – 4:32.53

Comparative splits, by 100:

Runge – 51.6 + 54.4 + 55.2 + 55.6 + 54.9 = 4:31.90
MacLean – 53.0 + 55.4 + 55.7 + 55.3 + 52.9 = 4:32.53

Runge showed off impressive front-end speed, which is not a big surprise given how good she is in the 50 and 100 – she ranges from sprint to distance almost seamlessly.

Her previous best in the 500 was a 4:34.81 from the Georgia Fall Invitational last December.

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Amazing swim by Runge.

But that last 100 by Maclean is still whack.

Going to be a race to watch at NCAAs with Maclean, Runge, Smith, Mcdermott and Thielmann!

samuel huntington

She is on the US national team, so I think we already knew she was a star – a time like this is expected, in fact she should be at least a second faster, right around Katie Hoff’s time.

samuel huntington

I guess I should clarify due to all the down votes – Runge is very fast in long course and could very well earn medals in Rio. the NCAA record in this event was pretty much inevitable, given her long course prowess.

Peter davis

The voting means nothing. Just go on mobile and it ain’t a problem cuz you can’t see them. That being said, I’m a little more impressed with the fastest time in NCAA history than you are 🙂 go Bears


Sam, Still sticking with Smith #2 behind Ledecky?

samuel huntington

very tight battle between the two – regardless, whoever gets the second spot can medal in the 400

Smith #2

If he wont say it, I will stick with saying Smith will be #2 and should still win NCAAs. Smith did win the last head to head battle with her this fall and was not rested for ACCs. But yes it will be very close between at least the trio of Smith, MacLean, and Runge.

bobo gigi

Don’t care about the down votes!
I’m very used to these useless things. 😆
When I write a comment, I don’t try to win a popularity contest! :mrgreen:

I agree. The NCAA record was inevitable.


does anyone happen to have this race video?


The Pac-12 network is showing tape-delayed coverage (as far as I can tell from their non-intuitive site it’s next-day, since, hey, who doesn’t mind waiting a day to see a sporting event?), so that’s my guess as to why they’re not streaming it live. It’s certainly being filmed.

bobo gigi

Unlike SEC last week, absolutely no trace of Pac-12 race videos on youtube so far. I can’t believe nobody films the finals.

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of 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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