NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championship Preview + Day One Open Thread

Can senior Caitlin Leverenz lead the Bears to a NCAA Three-peat? - Chris McGrath

The road to a threepeat starts today in Indianapolis, Indiana. Can the Cal Women's swimming win their 3rd straight NCAA championship and the 4th one in 5 years BEFORE the arrival of Missy Franklin? GO BEARS!

The NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, scheduled for Thursday March 21 to Saturday March 23 at the IU Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI, start today. The Cal Bears are a strong contender to make it a threepeat, having 13 swimmers and 1 diver qualified for the NCAA Championship.

Day 2 and day 3 action are broadcasted live on ESPN3 while the whole event will be edited and then tape delayed on a ESPN channel the following week. Day 1 is not any less important, however, with 6 events decided, including 2 very important relays (double the points of other events).

Live result can be found here.

Here are the full schedule for the championship:

Schedule of Events:

TRIALS—THURSDAY (11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT)

1. 200-Yard Freestyle Relay

10-minute intermission starting immediately at the conclusion of the relay

2. 500-Yard Freestyle

3. 200-Yard Individual Medley

4. 50-Yard Freestyle

20-minute intermission

6. 400-Yard Medley Relay

5. One-Meter Diving—Trials

FINALS—THURSDAY (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT)

1. 200-Yard Freestyle Relay

2. 500-Yard Freestyle

3. 200-Yard Individual Medley

4. 50-Yard Freestyle

5. One-Meter Diving—Finals

6. 400-Yard Medley Relay

TRIALS—FRIDAY (11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT)

7. 200-Yard Medley Relay

10-minute intermission starting immediately at the conclusion of the relay

8. 400-Yard Individual Medley

9. 100-Yard Butterfly

10. 200-Yard Freestyle

11. 100-Yard Breaststroke

12. 100-Yard Backstroke

20-minute intermission

14. 800-Yard Freestyle Relay—All but last three heats of time finals

13. Three-Meter Diving—Trials

FINALS—FRIDAY (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT)

7. 200-Yard Medley Relay

8. 400-Yard Individual Medley

9. 100-Yard Butterfly

10. 200-Yard Freestyle

11. 100-Yard Breaststroke

12. 100-Yard Backstroke

13. Three-meter Diving—Finals

14. 800-Yard Freestyle Relay—Last three heats of time finals

TRIALS—SATURDAY (11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT)

16. 200-Yard Backstroke

17. 100-Yard Freestyle

18. 200-Yard Breaststroke

19. 200-Yard Butterfly

20-minute intermission

21. 400-Yard Freestyle Relay

20. Platform Diving—Trials

15. 1,650-Yard Freestyle—All but last heat of time finals

FINALS—SATURDAY (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT)

15. 1,650-Yard Freestyle—Last heat of time finals

16. 200-Yard Backstroke

17. 100-Yard Freestyle

18. 200-Yard Breaststroke

19. 200-Yard Butterfly

20. Platform Diving—Finals

21. 400-Yard Freestyle Relay

NCAA Championship Scoring:

The team scoring breakdown are the following, for each individual events, a team score points by the final standing of the events. For most event, the finish in the morning's trial determines who makes it to the two finals of the evening. The A Final ("Championship Final") guarantee a swimmer at least a 8th place finish while the B Final ("Consolation Final") determines places 9th-16th. Even if a swimmer from the B Final has a faster time than a swimmer in the A Final, the best the B Finalist can do is still 9th place.

Here is the official statement from the rulebook (this link I found is from 2010):

All events will be scored. Scoring shall be for 16 places as follows: relays, 40-34-32-

30-28-26-24-22-18-14-12-10-8-6-4-2; individual events, 20-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-9-

7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Except in time final events, points for first through eighth place shall be

awarded solely on the basis of a championship final. Points for ninth through 16th place

shall be awarded solely on the basis of a consolation final

So the point breakdown is basically one point per place for the individual events, with the exception for the winner who gets two extra bonus point for winning an event (so 3 points more than the 2nd place). The winner of the consolation event gets one extra bonus point as well. Again, relays are basically events where the points are doubled.

By the time that the championship finalists are determined, you can pretty much see which events Cal would be picking up points on the opponents and which events where we would have to hold our breath.

Meet the Cal Competitors:

The lone senior of the Cal swimming dynasty is "Calympian" Caitlin Leverenz (Bronze medalists in the 200 IM in the 2012 London Games). Leverenz was the 2012 NCAA Swimmer of the Meet. Here is her official bio from the CalBears.com note.

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Caitlin Leverenz, senior, Tucson, Ariz. - the defending NCAA champ in the 200-yard individual medley and 200-yard breaststroke has qualified to swim in the 200- and 400-yard IMs and in the 200-yard breaststroke at this year's NCAAs; the Swimmer of the Meet at last year's NCAAs and Pac-12s, Leverenz also won an Olympic bronze medal in the 200-meter IM last summer and took home last year's Honda Sports Award for Swimming

Another returning NCAA champion for the Bears is junior Cindy Tran. Tran won the 100 back the past two years but she will face the stiffest competition from fellow Bears, freshman Rachel Bootsma (a 2012 London Calympian) and Elizabeth Pelton (who is swimming the 200 Back this year). 100 Back is also the signature event of one Missy Franklin, not to mention that of Cal legend Natalie Coughlin (the reason and inspiration for why all these great swimmers come to Cal and excel in this event).

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Cindy Tran, junior, Westminster, Calif. - the two-time defending NCAA champ in the 100-yard backstroke has qualified to swim in the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes and the 100-yard butterfly; she holds the fastest time in the field in the 100 back (50.42) - just .12 seconds ahead of the second-fastest swimmer: teammate Rachel Bootsma (50.54); also brings the 12th-fastest times in both the 200 back (1:53.24) and 100 fly (52.05) to NCAAs; took second (51.43) behind teammate Rachel Bootsma (50.64) in the 100 back at Pac-12s

Rachel Bootsma, who won a gold medal from swimming the prelim of the 400 medley relay this past summer, is one of two bright swimming star of this year's freshman class. Bootsma will compete in 100 Back as well (Pac-12 champ this year) as well as the 100 and 200 Butterfly. The other star of this year's freshman class is Elizabeth Pelton (who just missed making it to the 2012 Olympics team). Pelton will compete in the 200 IM, 200 Back, and 200 Free, as well as some key relays.

8175304_medium

Rachel Bootsma, freshman, Eden Prairie, Minn. - a 2012 U.S. Olympic gold medalist in the 400-meter medley relay, Bootsma qualified to swim the 100- and 200-yard butterflies and the 100-yard backstroke in her first NCAAs; holds the second-fastest time in the field in the 100 back (50.54) and the seventh-best times in the 100 fly (51.78) and 200 fly (1:54.97); edged second-place teammate Cindy Tran for the 100-back title at Pac-12s, 50.64-51.43

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Elizabeth Pelton, freshman, Towson, Md. - the 2013 Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet (after winning the 200 IM and 200-yard backstroke), Pelton has qualified to swim in the 200-yard individual medley, 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard freestyle at NCAAs; she holds the most (2) fastest times in individual events heading into NCAAs of any Cal swimmer in the field, including in the 200 IM (1:53.39) and 200 back (1:48.39); Pelton earned the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month award for November, a CollegeSwimming.com's Counsilman Hunsaker Swimmer of the Week honor and two California Muscle Milk Student Athlete of the Week accolades

Here are the rest of the very talented Cal squad. Many of these swimmers are definitely worthy of being highlighted, but I only have so much time to write this post.

Rachael Acker, freshman, Palo Alto, Calif. - the Pac-12 champion in the 200-yard freestyle, Acker has qualified to swim the 100 and 200 freestyles at the NCAA Championships; among the field at NCAAs, she holds the 12th-fastest 100-free time (48.40) and 11th-fastest 200 free time (1:44.66)

Stephanie Au, junior, Hong Kong - the Hong Kong Olympian (2008 & 2012) is qualified to swim the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes; among the field, she brings the fifth-fastest time in the 100 back (51.92) and the 20th-best time in the 200 back (1:53.71)

Kaylin Bing, sophomore, Roseburg, Ore. - qualified to swim the 50- and 100-yard freestyles; has the 16th-fastest time in the 50 free (22.22) and the 23rd-fastest time in the 100 free (48.78) in the NCAA field

Catherine Breed, sophomore, Pleasanton, Calif. - qualified to swim in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles; holds the 25th-best time in the 200 (1:45.55) and 30th-fastest time in the 500 (4:42.10) in the NCAA field; at 2012 NCAAs, she claimed All-America honors with Cal's second-place 800-yard freestyle relay and honorable mention All-America laurels by taking 11th in the 500 free and 14th in the 200 free

Camille Cheng, sophomore, Beijing, China - another 2012 NCAA veteran who the Bears will rely on to swim relays; at last year's national meet, she placed 41st in the 200-yard freestyle; more recently took seventh in the 200 free, placed 15th in the 100 free and swam on a fast 800-yard freestyle relay (7:07.45) for Cal's B team at the Pac-12 Championships

Lauren Driscoll, freshman, Cooper City, Fla. - one of five members of Cal's heralded freshmen class competing at NCAAs, Driscoll is qualified to swim in the 500-yard freestyle and 400-yard individual medley

Melanie Klaren, sophomore, Laguna Niguel, Calif. - qualified to swim in the 500-yard freestyle and 100- and 200-yard backstrokes; earned honorable mention All-America honors at 2012 NCAAs when she took 12th in the 100 back and 10th in the 200 back

Kelly Naze, freshman, Englewood, Colo. - qualified to swim in the 200- and 400-yard individual medleys; has the 30th-best time in the 200 IM (1:57.90) and the 22nd-fastest time in the 400 IM NCAA field (4:10.10)

Caroline Piehl, sophomore, Centennial, Colo. - qualified to swim in the 200-yard freestyle with the 21st-best time in the field (1:45.29); earned honorable mention All-America honors with a 13th-place finish in the 200 free at 2012 NCAAs, and she also placed second with Cal's 800-free relay last season; at this year's Pac-12s, she took third in the 200 free

And the one diver, Kahley Rowell, who scored some diving points for the Bears last year for the first time in a long time.

Kahley Rowell, junior, Dove Canyon, Calif. - took second in the recent NCAA Zone E Diving Qualifying Meet to qualify to dive in all three events (one-meter springboard, three-meter springboard and platform) at NCAA Championships; last season, she became the first Golden Bear in 21 years to dive at NCAAs, and her fifth-place finish in the platform final clinched Cal's 2012 team title

The Bears are, of course, coached by the USA Women's Swimming Head Coach, Teri McKeever.

Head coach Teri McKeever - The Golden Bear boss became the first woman to claim the role of U.S. Olympic swimming head coach in 2012, when she led the U.S. women's contingent in London. She became the first woman to coach in any capacity on a U.S. Olympic swimming team when she worked as a U.S. assistant in the 2004, a role she duplicated in the 2008 Olympics. She was also the first woman to serve as a U.S. head coach at a major international meet, when she led the women's national team in the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships.

Prior to her 2012 Olympic summer, McKeever led Cal to its second straight - and third in four years - NCAA team title after coaching the Bears to the team crown at the inaugural Pac-12 Championships. She earned the Coach of the Meet award after each set of 2012 championships. The Pac-12 honor marked McKeever's fifth conference laurel, including awards in 1999, 2002, 2009 and 2011. In 2002, McKeever garnered the American Swimming Coaches Association Coach of the Year award.

Relay Outlooks:

The following are the seeds for the Cal relays. The Bears won two relays last year (200 Medley and 400 Medley) on their way to the NCAA title. I cannot stress how much the Bears' chances depend on these relay performances.

200-Yard Freestyle Relay - seventh seed (1:28.78)

400-Yard Freestyle Relay - second seed (3:12.37)

800-Yard Freestyle Relay - fifth seed (6:58.95)

200-Yard Medley Relay - seventh seed (1:36.29)

400-Yard Medley Relay - third seed (3:29.86)

Schools to Watch Out For:

Cal's main competition for the NCAA title include fellow Pac-12 schools USC (ranked number 1 overall for most of the season) and Furd (won the Pac-12 Championship). From outside the Pac-12, Georgia has been runner-up to Cal for the past two seasons. Georgia does have the maximum allowed number of qualified swimmer with 19 but that does not potentially mean that they are competing in more events.

Details about the seed and the qualified swimmers can be found on the "psych sheet".

So amidst all the Cal Athletics excitement this week/weekend, don't forget to check in on the Cal women's swimming's quest for a THREEPEAT.

GO BEARS!

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