A passing of the torch in US Women's swimming (and Cal swimming history) occurred a month ago in Omaha. By edging her idol, Cal great, Natalie Coughlin, Rachel Bootsma became a first time Olympian by qualifying for the 100 back and in the process eliminate Coughlin's hope to win another Olympic gold in her signature event (back to back golds in Athens and Beijing). Along with Missy Franklin, who finished first in the Olympic trial and is considered the favorite in the 100 Back in London, Rachel is part of this new US group of great teenage swimmer and also expected to have a strong chance to medal in this event.
The Minnesota native is a prized recruit for Cal swimming who will matriculate this fall, along with another top recruit Elizabeth Pelton (who narrowly missed out on an Olympic berth). After breaking the high school record for 100 back in her high school junior year in 2010, Rachel gave up on high school swimming in her senior year to focus on making 2012 London. Along the way, she also won a gold in the Pan American Games.
Learn more about Rachel after the jump.
- Twitter: @r_bootsma15
- Event: 100 backstroke
- 1st time Olympian
- Cal career: incoming freshmen
- Rachel edged her idol, Natalie Coughlin, for the second place finish in 100 back in the US Swim Trial.
Rachel owns the high school 100 backstroke record (51.53s, set in 2010 at the Minnesota State Championship meet), she talks about it here:
She did another interview (sporting a Cal shirt, no less) after placing 2nd in the 2011 Nationals. She talked about potentially competing with Natalie Coughlin for that second Olympic berth in 100 Back and there is some discussion about Cal starting at 4:35 mark.
Rachel's commitment to Cal (announced early last year so she can focus on making the Olympics) lead to this breakdown of Cal swimming by theSwimmingCircle.com. Basically, Cal is super loaded in terms of backstrokes with incoming freshmen Bootsma, Pelton, and sophomores Cindy Tran (whose high school record was broken by Rachel) and Deborah Roth. However, Rachel is expected to be more versatile than that.
Bootsma brings a bit of a different element to Cal, however, than their current backstroke crew. Her 52.64 100 butterflier already almost makes her an NCAA A-Finalist, as does her 1:55 200 fly, and her 48.99 100 free will make her a potential contributor on multiple Cal relays. Bootsma will bring plenty of flexibility to the pending Cal backstroke logjam.
Just as Rachel is excited to start college at Cal, I'm just as excited about having Rachel swimming for the Bears as Cal swimming and diving goes for a three-peat and more. Prior to that however, best of luck to Rachel in getting a shiny souvenir from London this summer.
Go Rachel and GO BEARS!