Anytime you have someone named Missy Franklin on your team expectations are going to be high.
The bubbly girl with the big smile and the terrifying speed famously passed up the millions of endorsements in the afterglow of the London Olympics in order to go the collegiate route. And where would she end up? One of the citadels of fast swimming in the United States, the University of California at Berkeley.
BIG TEAM; BIGGER EXPECTATIONS
Heading into the 2013-2014 season the Cal women bears were ranked #1, with heavy hitters Franklin, Liz Pelton, Caitlin Leverenz, Rachel Bootsma and seniors Cindy Tran and Steph Au filling out the squad.
Pelton is no stranger to high level competition, having competed and medaled at the 2013 FINA World Championships and the 2011 Pan American Games. She was also 2013 NCAA Swimmer of the Year, and secured PAC-12 Freshman of the Year honours. Tran competed last year at the World University Games in Russia, and Au has Olympic experience under her belt.
GEORGIA TAKES THE LEAD EARLY; DOESN’T LOOK BACK
Despite the star-studded line up fielded by Cal, the race for the national title would ultimately never really be a race. The University of Georgia would put on a clinic, repeating as champions that was impressive as it was domination. They took a 50 point lead at the end of the first day, and extended it to 72 points after the second.
For her part Franklin showed that she wasn’t invincible (in a yards pool, at least), coming in a tight second in the 500 yard freestyle to Brittany MacLean of Georiga by about a tenth of a second, while also placing 3rd in the 100 freestyle. Nevertheless, she would win the 200 free in American record fashion, and also anchored the winning 4×200 free relay in a blistering 1:40.08.
Afterwards, Franklin was pleased with her race, saying: “I’m absolutely thrilled with that right now. That was an incredible relay to be a part of, there’s no better feeling coming in behind as an anchor, to come back and win that one was really great for our team. I think it definitely lifted some spirits.”
Cal suffered bad luck via a disqualification in the 4×50 medley relay. Their heats time of 1:36.51 would have put them second going into finals, providing for a missed opportunity for points. Bootsma, a favourite to contend for the national title in the 100 backstroke, also failed to advance from the heats and defend her title from last year, adding to a string of disappointments for the lady bears.
GEORGIA’S MACLEAN SEALS THE DEAL
The University of Georgia led handily leading into the final night, with a 72 point lead over Stanford. The timed final of the 1650 free offered a chance for Georgia to put an exclamation point on the meet, and MacLean did not disappoint.
Her time of 15:27.84 is the 3rd fastest ever at the distance, with only Katie Hoff and Katie Ledecky ever having gone quicker.
The win for MacLean, which was also an NCAA meet record and also an NCAA record (by eleven seconds), was the fourth time in the past six years that a swimmer from the University of Georgia had won this event. Second place would be her teammate, Amber McDermott in 15:40.27.
The final point tally for the women:
- Georgia: 528
- Stanford: 402.5
- Cal: 386
- Texas A&M: 336
- USC Trojans: 252
- Florida: 239
- Tennessee: 223
- Arizona: 156