NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championship Final Day Open Thread

Can the super freshmen, Elizabeth Pelton (left) and Rachel Bootsma (right) bring a NCAA Championship 3peat to Berkeley? - Streeter Lecka

A NCAA winner would be crowned tonight. Would it be the Cal Bears for the 3rd straight year (and prior to the arrival of Missy Franklin) or would it be Georgia (runner up the last two years)? Cal Golden Bears do trail the Georgia Bulldogs by 15 points heading into Day 3. Every single point is important now. GO BEARS!

The Bearathon continues. This is actually the sole Cal athletics event where the Bears can win a NCAA Championship at the end of it.

NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championship Day 3 (Final Day):

When: 4 PM PT

Online video: ESPN3.com

Live stats: Meet Result

My preview from Thursday

The Bears are trying to win their 4th team swimming NCAA Championship in program history (it would also be the 4th one in 5 years). To win the NCAA championship again would require more than just the top swimmers performing well, Cal have always had great swimming stars but have only start winning team championships recently due to the improved depth.

In the first two days, senior Caitlin Leverenz became an individual NCAA Champion in 200 IM. Freshman and fellow Calympian Rachel Bootsma also became an individual NCAA Champion by winning 100 Back (she also came awfully close in 100 Fly). Freshman Elizabeth Pelton has scored points for the Bears in 5 different events. Pelton would go for the 200 Back title on Saturday. The key for day 3, however, lies in the performance of junior Cindy Tran, freshman Rachel Acker (the freestyle specialist for the Bears to go up against all the strong freestylists from Georgia), junior Stephanie Au, and sophomore Melanie Klaren.

Part of the reason, why Cal has all these great backstrokers are due to these swimmers growing up idolizing a certain swimming icon:

By the way, if the Bears do manage to pull off the three-peat, there is certain someone coming to Berkeley that would make a 4th and 5th consecutive NCAA title a distinct possibility:

Team standings going into Day 3:

1. Georgia 	300   
2. California 	285
3. Tennessee 	263.5   
4. Arizona 	246
5. Texas A&M 	216 

Tennessee have surprised by winning 3 relays, but they don't have the depth to realistically pull off the team win.

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.

Day 3 Schedule and Quick Preview (And some results from this morning's prelim):

15. 1,650-Yard Freestyle

Not a strong suit for the Bears, but two Cal swimmer (Lauren Driscoll and Catherine Breed) can potentially score some points.

Expect the Bears to lose some points to Georgia in this event.

16. 200-Yard Backstroke

Strong event for the Bears. Elizabeth Pelton (1 seed) is expected to contend for the title. Cindy Tran should also score points. Whether Stephanie Au and Melanie Klaren can get into a final (particularly if they can get into the A Final) would probably determine this year's team championship.

Prelim update: Pelton got the top time as expected but she is the lone Bear in the A Final. Klaren made it into the B Final. Tran hasn't had a good weekend between her performances in individual events and relays.

Georgia, the only competition for the Team NCAA Championship, have one swimmer in the B Final

Best Case scenario: 29 Points for the Bears, 1 Point for Georgia
If it follow the prelim result: 27 Points for the Bears, 3 Points for Georgia

17. 100-Yard Freestyle

Rachael Acker may be able to make a final. Georgia are strong in Freestyle so they would gain points back from the Bears.

Prelim update: Acker does up her time and make it to the A Final, but she is up against 3 Bulldogs in the A Final and 1 More in the B Final.

Best Case for Cal: 20 Point win for Acker (nearly impossible), only 37 for Georgia
More realistic: 15 Points for Cal, 56 Points for Georgia

18. 200-Yard Breaststroke

Leverenz should make the A final. So could a Georgia swimmer.

Prelim update: Cal’s lone senior Caitlin Leverenz just squeezed into the A Final (would need to do better tonight)

Bad news: Georgia has one swimmer in the A Final and one in the B Final

Even if Leverenz can up her time tonight, Cal might gain any point, if at all from this event

19. 200-Yard Butterfly

Bootsma should make the A final. Georgia could offset Bootsma with two swimmers in the B final.

Prelim update: Bootsma in the A Final, but Georgia got one swimmer in the A Final (who cut her time by 1.5 seconds) and one in the B

20. Platform Diving—Finals

Let's go Kayley Rowell! She can score some points for the Bears.

Georgia do have two divers who could score some points.

Prelim update: Rowell made the A Final! Georgia do have a diver in the A Final as well, but at least Cal probably won't lose too many points (if at all) in diving. Back-to-back year, by the way, for Cal to get NCAA diving points (also Rowell last year).

21. 400-Yard Freestyle Relay

It might all come down to this final relay. Bears are the second seed in this.

Thoughts after the prelim: Georgia have stepped up their swims and basically qualified the maximum number of swimmers for the finals. Barring DQ's, it would probably require subpar swims across the board from the Bulldogs for the Bears to have a chance at the team championship. Nevertheless, tonight is still a great opportunity for many Cal Bears to shine individually. If the three-peat dream is indeed dashed, the Bears are obviously in pretty good shape with the key freshmen (Bootsma, Pelton, and Acker) getting better and Missy Franklin in the mix (for the next two seasons).

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 theCalBears.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).

8175412_medium

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

8175372_medium

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.

Day 1 Recap:

Congratulation to senior Caitlin Leverenz for winning another individual NCAA Championship! More from CalBears.com:

Caitlin Leverenz began her last NCAA Championships as a collegian just as she did her previous one, as California's lone senior captured the 200-yard individual medley - edging freshman teammate Elizabeth Pelton - on the first day of the meet on Thursday at the IU Natatorium. The two-time defending NCAA champion, Cal ended the first session of finals in fourth place overall with 102 points, behind leader Georgia (163 points), second-place Tennessee (150.5) and third-place Arizona (127).

Leverenz, a Tucson, Ariz., product posted a time of 1:53.39 in the 200 IM to out touch the younger Bear by less than a half a second; Pelton swam a time of 1:53.82.

Cal had four A-final finishes on Thursday, opening the finals' session by taking fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The quartet of sophomore Kaylin Bing, juniorCindy Tran, Pelton and freshmanRachel Bootsma clocked a time of 1:28.31. Tennessee won the relay in a time of 1:27.14.

In the 500-yard freestyle, sophomore Catherine Breed collected the Bears' best finish and earned honorable mention All-America honors by placing 12th in a time of 4:39.72. USC's Haley Anderson won the 500 free in a time of 4:34.66.

Cal closed the night by taking third place in the 400-yard medley relay, as the team of Tran, Leverenz, Bootsma and Pelton clocked a time of 3:29.47 for the Bears. Tennessee won the 400-free relay in a time of 3:28.51.

The Bears' finish in the 400-free relay gave Pelton three All-America honors on the night.

Day 2 Recap:

Congratulation to freshman Rachel Bootsma for winning her first (of many?) individual NCAA Championship! Strong outing by the Bears in 100 Back significantly closed the gap between Cal and Georgia. Again from CalBears.com:

Rachel Bootsma kept the 100-yard backstroke crown in the family as the freshman won California's third straight national title in that event - and her first collegiate national title - on Friday night at the NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships at the IU Natatorium. Junior teammate Cindy Tran - who won the previous two NCAA crowns in the 100 back - finished fifth in tonight's final. After two days of the meet, Cal moved up to second place with 285 points, behind leader Georgia (300 points).

Bootsma clocked the second-fastest time in history - 50.13 - which ranks behind only Cal legend Natalie Coughlin's NCAA record of 49.97. Tran posted a time of 51.97 in fifth place. Cal junior Stephanie Au and sophomore Melanie Klaren finished back to back in the B final, as Au placed 12th in a time of 51.88 and Klaren took 13th in a time of 52.12.

The Bears collected eight championship-final finishes and a total of 12 championship and consolation final appearances on Friday. They also notched six top-three finishes on the night.

One can also check out this detailed recap from Swimming World:


GO BEARS!

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