The Cal women got their more traditional schedule under way in Corvallis, Oregon on Friday night, as they opened up against Pac-12 opponents Oregon State, and wound up winning 13 out of the meet’s 14 events.
Most eyes around the country were locked on Olympic darling and swimming star Missy Franklin, as she got her first crack at a more traditional meet format, and true-to-her-expectations, Franklin swam a much different lineup than we’re used to seeing from her.
She began her first dual meet by swimming the 1000 free, which she won in 9:55.97 – four seconds ahead of Oregon State sophomore Sammy Harrison (9:59.86). One of Cal’s other star freshmen, Celina Li, was 3rd in the race in 10:21.58.
For those wondering, that is Franklin’s best time by roughly 28 seconds, with her previous best coming in October of 2012 (which means after the Olympics – so this really is a noteworthy improvement for her).
Sammy Harrison would pick up the Beavers’ only win of the meet later on in the 500 free, where she went a 4:55.83. Oregon State usually produces 2-3 top-tier Pac 12 swimmers every season, and with this start for Harrison (her 1000 free was better than she swam her entire freshman year), it looks like she might be the next up to bat.
Franklin swam three individual events in the meet. In addition to that 1000 free, she was a 2:25.64 in the 200 breast for 4th place (well off of her best time, as she went out to a relatively slow start). Li won that race in 2:20.13, as head coach Teri McKeever seems to be prepared to pit her two American freshman stars against each other, perhaps to draw out a bit of competitiveness.
Franklin wrapped her meet with a swim in the 100 fly, which she won handily in 57.04 – over a full second ahead of her next-closest competitor, teammate Rachael Acker in 58.28.
In Franklin’s one shot at a relay, we got a tiny little taste in something closer to a primary event for her. The meet ended with a 200 yard free relay, and Franklin anchored the A (the top two relays were split on quality for Cal) with a 22.84. The next fastest split of the entire field was Cindy Tran’s 23.30 on the B – almost half-a-second behind.
Outside of Franklin and Li’s individual swims, the Mystical Cal Medley tour of 2013-2014 began this meet with some very interesting head-to-head Cal races in the meet-opening event.
The Cal A was Rachel Bootsma, Celina Li, Cindy Tran, and Kristen Vredeveld, who combined for a 1:44.67, and the Cal B was Melanie Klaren, Marina Garcia, Kelly Naze, and Rachael Acker who combined for a 1:45.43.
- Bootsma outsplit Klaren 26.26-27.19
- Li outsplit fellow freshman Garcia 29.57-29.64
- Naze outsplit Tran 25.20-25.28
- Acker outsplit Vredeveld 23.40-23.56
The two we’ll focus on are the breaststroke and freestyle legs. In the former, Celina Li, who could very well be Cal’s best butterflier this year, outsplit Marina Garcia, who could very well be their best breaststroker. Of course, the Spaniard is still getting used to life in the United States collegiate system and yards swimming, but we’re still talking about a swimmer who was 10th at the World Championships in the 50 breaststroke and 7th in the 100.
This really shows off just how special of a swimmer Li could possibly be.
Then, on the anchor, it was Vredeveld versus Acker. The incumbent, and sophomore, Acker held-off her highly-heralded freshman teammate, but Cal’s sprint freestyle depth this year, as compared to last when they still placed 5th at NCAA’s in the 200 free relay, is immensely greater.
Garcia would win the individual 100 in 1:04.51, though Oregon State (led by a 1:06.11 from Crystal Kibby) took the 2nd-4th place touches.
Li added a win in the 200 fly (2:00.55) ahead of Liz Pelton (2:01.19). Kaylin Bing took the 50 free, ahead of Vredeveld and Bootsma, though nobody was better than 24.30. It was still a bit of an upset, though.
Pelton picked up a win in the 100 free, going 50.75 to beat Rachael Acker (51.78), one of the few Cal Bears who got to swim a primary individual event at this meet.
Rounding out the victories were a good double from Kelly Naze. She won the 200 back in 2:04.16, and came back just two events later to win the 200 IM in 2:06.28.
Oregon State will race next at their intrasquad meet on October 5th before welcoming in Utah on October 11th (they don’t have to travel until November).
Cal next swims against Washington State, at home, on October 4th.