Sprinter Valerie Hull has decided to transfer from Auburn to Cal beginning with her sophomore season of eligibility. This will take her closer to her native San Diego for her three remaining years of eligibility.
“I’m grateful for the experience I had here at Auburn, but I’m excited to be closer to home and to continue my swim career as a Golden Bear,” Hull said of her decision.
Hull had a standout freshman season at Auburn that concluded with her participation at the 2015 NCAA Championships both individually and as part of Auburn’s relays.
In her individual swims, Hull was 23rd in the 50 free (22.25) and 37th in the 100 free (49.15). That time in the 50 was a new lifetime best for Hull, and she was as fast as 48.88 from a flat-start in the 100 free.
In the process, she also picked up two first team All-America honors by anchoring Auburn’s 200 free relay (21.46) and 400 free relay (48.75).
Her proven ability to swim fast at the NCAA level will be a huge boost for Cal, the defending NCAA team champions. While Cal does return plenty of stars from its squad last year that won three relay events at nationals, Teri McKeever graduates top pure-freestyle-sprinter Kaylin Bing, who led off their title-winning 200 free relay in 22.36; and also loses Missy Franklin, who was also on that relay and split 21.28. Hull’s 200 free relay split in finals was also faster than that of Cal’s third leg, Rachel Bootsma, who was 21.60 in that race.
Hull will have a shot at scoring individually in the 50 as a sophomore, but more importantly for Cal’s team effort she will combine junior Farida Osman to form the core of Cal’s new sprint group in the 2015-2016 season after Abbey Weitzeil (the best sprinter in the class of 2015) decided to defer college enrollment until after the 2016 Olympic Trials.
Also joining the refreshed Cal sprint group next season will be Amy Bilquist (22.1/48.3 freestyler). She’s joined in the class by a pair of swimmers who are not sprinters, but like current Cal standouts Liz Pelton and Rachel Bootsma can still hold their own, Katie McLaughlin (22.6/48.3) and Kathleen Baker (22.6/48.2), which gives Cal a chance at repeating as 200 free relay champions in 2016.