BERKELEY, California, October 18. THE first day of a two-day dual meet between the Florida women’s swim team and host UC-Berkeley featured NCAA champions and Olympians posting some quick in-season times.
Cal showed off its powerhouses in the meet’s first event, the 400 medley relay, with Missy Franklin leading off with a 53.90 that would rank second in the nation. After a 1:02.07 form Yvette Kong, Rachel Bootsma followed up with a 55.30 butterfly leg that would be followed by a 49.21 from Elizabeth Pelton to produce a winning time of 3:40.48. The Golden Bears’ “B” team was close behind for second with a 3:41.00 that produced a faster breaststroke leg from Spanish world championship finalist Marina Garcia Urzainqui (1:01.82) and butterflyer Farida Osman (54.26). Florida was also in the hunt with a third-place time of 3:41.83 that included a 48.66 freestyle from Natalie Hinds.
Florida came roaring back in the 1000 free with a points sweep of the top five places from Alicia Mathieu (9:53.37), Danielle Valley (9:58.62), Jessica Thielmann (10:01.34), Autumn Finke (10:05.25) and Megan Rankin (10:07.33).
Franklin was back in one of her specialties, the 200 freestyle. In her first 200 free race of her college career, Franklin blasted away the field with a 1:45.19 that plants her firmly at the top of the collegiate ranks in the event. Last night, USC’s Chelsea Chenault posted a 1:46.01 last night in Dallas for a brief stint as the top 200 freestyler.
After posting the fastest 100 free split on the medley relay, Hinds was back to win the 50 free in 22.82 to put her under 23 seconds for the first time this season. Hinds was ninth in the NCAA championships last season with a 22.12, so today’s swim is not far off her lifetime best. Hinds came back to win the 100 free in a 49.67 to beat Rachael Acker of Cal, who posted a 50.55.
The best battle of swimming heavyweights took place in the 200 IM, where Pelton took the with a 1:57.48 ahead of Cal freshman Celina Li, who swam a 1:58.18 to give Cal a 1-2 punch in scoring. Florida senior Elizabeth Beisel, quickly improving in the 200 IM after many years of accolades in the 400 IM, placed third with a 1:58.29. As is her usual style, Pelton was leading after backstroke only to find Li and Beisel making a strong move on breaststroke. Notably, all three swims are the first under two minutes so far this season. Beisel’s time of 2:00.53 from the All-Florida Invite had been the fastest time of the season.
Li and Beisel went head-to-head again in the 200 fly less than 20 minutes after the 200 IM. Li got to the wall ahead of Beisel again, 1:57.98 to 1:58.54. Beisel is showing improvement in the butterfly, which is typically her weakest stroke in her IM events. Li, on the other hand, is a national finalist in the butterfly events.
A major showdown was avoided today with Franklin and Beisel sitting out the 200 backstroke. That paved the way for American record holder Pelton to win easily with a 1:53.94 and place herself well at the top of the national rankings. Melanie Klaren (1:59.74) and Stephanie Au (1:59.78) were second and third for Cal, ahead of Florida sophomore and Olympic finalist Sinead Russell, who was fourth with a 1:59.85.
Franklin’s absence in the 200 backstroke proved to be a good one, as she appeared in the 500 free, and won it with a 4:45.40 over a bevy of Gators who placed second through seventh. Though Franklin’s points were outdone by Florida’s sweep of the remaining places, it put the Cal freshman phenom second in the collegiate rankings, behind Beisel’s 4:45.04.
Urzainqui posted a needed win for Cal in the 200 breast with a 2:12.97. While that is light years behind the 2:10.22 Breeja Larson posted last night, it’s securely the second-fastest in the nation right now, showing that Cal found a good transition after the graduation of Caitlin Leverenz — in more ways than one.
Cal went 1-2 in the final event of the day, the 200 free relay. The “A” team of Osman (23.31), Acker (23.32), Kaylin Bing (23.03) and Bootsma (23.47) posted a 1:33.13 ahead of the “B” team’s 1:34.29 that placed second. Florida was third with a 1:34.32.
At the end of the first day, Cal had a comfortable lead over Florida, 135-108.