Kathleen Baker’s Backstroke Prowess Headed To Berkeley Next Fall

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, September 16. THE impossibly deep backstroke squad on Teri McKeever’s team at the University of California-Berkeley added one more to its group with the announcement today that Kathleen Baker will move cross-country from North Carolina to the Bay Area next fall.

Baker made a meteoric rise in the national ranks this summer, placing second in the 200 backstroke at the USA Swimming nationals to earn a spot on the Pan Pacific championships team. Her 2:10.23 gave her the opportunity to represent the Stars and Stripes Australia, where she placed ninth in the 100 backstroke with a 1:00.35. Rules limiting countries to just two swimmers per country in the A final meant Baker could only swim in the B final of the 100 back, but she swam the fourth-fastest time in finals.

Baker got to experience the Cal backstroke alliance firsthand in Australia, as future teammates Missy Franklin, Elizabeth Pelton and Rachel Bootsma were also on the Pan Pac roster. Getting guidance from USA women’s head coach McKeever no doubt helped her decision.

The SwimMAC Carolina product also saw action at the Duel in the Pool last December, placing third in the 200 backstroke. She got the spot on the team by virtue of Sarah Denninghoff’s injury, and made the most of her first senior-level international competition.

Baker has a bit of work to do in short course yards to catch up to her potential in long course meters. Her 200-yard backstroke lifetime best is 1:54.30 from March 2013, though her 51.51 in the 100 back came this past March. Her 200 back time would have put her in the top 16 for Cal, while Baker’s 100 back lifetime best would have put her in the championship final.

Baker’s arrival in Berkeley will immediately help Cal as the team loses Missy Franklin to a professional career after this season.