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High school senior Jessica Franco has verbally committed to Division I program California State University, Bakersfield. Franco is a native of Mesa, Arizona where she attends Mountain View High School and trains with the Mesa Aquatics Club.
Franco recently competed at the Arizona High School State Championship meet in early November. During that timed finals event, she finished 5th in Division I in the 200 free, marking a new lifetime best, and 4th in the 500 free, in spite of being about 5 seconds shy of her lifetime best.
Division I includes Arizona’s largest high schools, and her Mountain View team finished 4th overall.
Franco was on a dramatic rise heading into quarantine, though in many events she hasn’t quite recaptured that form yet. At the Arizona Short Course Championships in late February, for example, she swam the 500 free and dropped 19 seconds off her previous best time (which itself was done earlier that month).
Best Times in Yards:
- 200 free – 1:54.20
- 500 free – 5:00.47
- 1000 free – 11:24.41
- 50 back (relay leadoff) – 27.27
- 100 back – 57.95
While she focused on the mid-distance freestyles, a relatively-new specialty for her, at the Arizona State Championship meet, her best event might be the 100 yard backstroke. Her yards best of 57.95 is a USA Swimming Futures cut, based on the most recent 2019 standards.
She joins a CSUB team that finished 5th out of 8 squads at last year’s WAC Championships (which were an odd meet, marred by a water main break near the University of Houston pool that resulted in most of the event being run as timed-finals). A 5:00 in the 500 free would have placed in the top 16 at last year’s conference championship, and a 57.9 in the 100 back would have placed just outside of that mark.
Franco is one of 4 announced swimmers for the CSUB women in the class of 2021. She joins Danielle Albright (1:04.2 breaststroker), Melinda Johnson (1:58.2 backstroker), and Leah Kirkman (a 2:03 backstroker). Of that group, Johnson, whose best time in the 200 back is already under the school record, is the headliner.
Other swimmers who have verbally committed in the class include Denisa Ciobanu and Vivien Liebhardt.
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