The California Golden Bears kicked off post-season swimming in a big way, not just breaking but smashing every major record in the 800 free relay on opening night.
The Bears went 6:50.18, which breaks the NCAA, US Open and American records all by an astounding 2.4 seconds.
The team featured one swimmer from each class: freshman Cierra Runge led off, followed by junior Elizabeth Pelton, senior Caroline Piehl and sophomore anchor Missy Franklin.
Franklin, the American record-holder in the individual 200 free, was the key driver of the effort, splitting 1:40.68 on the final leg. That includes an amazing 48.4 split to her feet at the 100-mark.
Even scarier: Franklin was a good half-second faster than that in her split at last year’s NCAAs (1:40.08). In fact, Franklin could be chasing the first-ever sub-1:40 split in history on this relay at the national championships next month.
The previous record was a 6:52.64 set by Georgia’s all-star lineup back in 2013. That relay, which also broke the record at a conference championship meet, featured future international stars Megan Romano and Allison Schmitt.
Here’s a quick look at the split comparison between the two relays:
|California 2015||Georgia 2013|
|Cierra Runge||1:42.73||Shannon Vreeland||1:43.38|
|Elizabeth Pelton||1:43.29||Megan Romano||1:42.43|
|Caroline Piehl||1:43.48||Jordan Mattern||1:44.32|
|Missy Franklin||1:40.68||Allison Schmitt||1:42.51|
Also notable for Cal was the freshman Runge, who has been drawing rave reviews from her training partners all season long. Runge went 1:42.73 on her leadoff leg, which moves her to #1 in the country this year and would have placed her 4th at last year’s NCAAs.
This record in particular seems to go down more frequently at conference meets, when the 800 free relay happens on the first day when all swimmers are fresh. At NCAAs, most 200 freestylers have to swim the event individually at prelims and finals on Friday before swimming it a third time on the relay, making it tough to repeat ultra-quick conference times.
Still, it’s very likely that Cal’s top dogs aren’t fully rested here, so it will be an intriguing storyline to see exactly how fast they wind up going at the NCAA Championships.
Pac-12 live results are here.