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Golden Medals: Cal Swimming ends 2014 with strong showings at Georgia Invitational

After a championship-less fall season, Cal's best athletic season, winter, is next. It's time for us to focus on swimming.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgia Invitational was a huge meet, involving several top ranked swim teams in the country, to close the 2014 calendar year of the schedule. The 7(8 for women) other schools competing against the Bears were the host Georgia, Auburn, Penn State, Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Harvard (plus UCLA women in diving the way, did you know that UCLA actually does not have a men's swimming team?).

While the goal of the teams are obviously to peak in March at the NCAA's, many swimmers have already dropped significant time in this meet. We shall see whether this translates to these swimmers dropping even more time comes March (and break a bunch of records).

Cal Men's Swimming

The Bears are of course the defending NCAA champs. The reinforced the fact that the Bears are the one to beat comes March by winning the Georgia Invitationals.

Final Standings:

1. University of California 921
2. University of Georgia 916
3. Auburn University 641
4. University of Virginia 526
5. Penn State University 331.5
6. Florida State University 311.5
7. Virginia Tech 167
8. Harvard University 18

The Bears edged host Georgia, despite Cal not bringing any divers to this meet (this is an even bigger edge for the Georgia women's team).

Bears won 8 of the 21 events over the 3 days, including 3 relays.

They are:

  • 200 Free relay: Stubblefield, Messerschmidt, Chung, Murphy
  • 200 Medley relay: Murphy, Katis, Lynch, Messerschmidt
  • 400 Medley relay: Murphy, Katis, Lynch, Stubblefield
  • 100 Back: Ryan Murphy
  • 200 Back: Ryan Murphy
  • 50 Free: Tyler Messerschmidt
  • 100 Fly: Justin Lynch
  • 100 Breast: Chuck Katis

Freshman Justin Lynch's win was a pleasant surprise to me. Learn more about him via this video.

In case you're not that familiar with the rest of the returning Cal Swimmers, I'll include the ones from the other Cal winners (even though it was obviously a total team effort with lots of guys scoring points that is the strength of the Cal swimming teams).

Sophomore Ryan Murphy made a huge splash in his freshman year and is poised to repeat those backstroke titles this year.

Senior Chuck Katis transferred from Harvard. In his 1st year with the Bears last year, he filled a huge need (at the time) for the Bears in the Breast stroke leg of the relays, not to mention points in breast races.

We've shared junior Tyler Messerschmidt's photos of that nice looking NCAA championship ring a month or so ago. Learn more about Messy.

Another freestylist for the Bears is senior Seth Stubblefield:

Another contributor to a relay win for the Bears is Henry Chung.

Although he didn't win any race, merely scored bunch of points on IM's and backstrokes races, I'll give a special shoutout to Josh Prenot, who is a physics major on the team.

So Prenot is taking Physics H7C this semester, which means that Cal fans can ask him to explain Interstellar (or just relativity in general) in future Cal home swim meets.

All these wins and a bunch more results were already good for NCAA A qualifying times. Several more fulfill the NCAA B qualifying times.

The Bears are off competition-wise, but obviously not training-wise, until the end of January when the Pac-12 dual season starts.

Cal Women's Swimming

While the Cal Men's have been winning the fall duel meets and Invitationals (again, these early results really doesn't matter that much), the Cal Women's Swimming has had some tougher results, placing just 2nd at Florida and losing a home dual meet to Texas. Just like in the Florida meet, the Bears finished 2nd this last week down at Georgia, all because of diving points for the home team.

Nevertheless, the Bears had a great meet, and reclaimed the top ranking in college women's swimming via their effort last week.

Another very promising thing was the performance of Cal superstar Missy Franklin. Missy had suffered some back problems early in the fall, so she was not her dominant self. Missy showed last week that she is back in her top form, so that's very encouraging to see (even though a Missy Franklin at half-speed is still quite a force in college swimming).

Elizabeth Pelton and Missy Franklin had the two best 200 back times in the country this year.

All in all the Bears won the following events:

  • 200 Free Relay: Franklin, Bootsma, Bing, Osman
  • 200 IM: Elizabeth Pelton (just over Franklin)
  • 400 IM: Celina Li
  • 200 Free: Missy Franklin
  • 800 Free Relay: Runge, Cheng, Franklin, Pelton
  • 200 Back: Elizabeth Pelton (just over Franklin again)
  • 400 Free Relay: Franklin, Cheng, Osman, Pelton

Bears also got several 2nd place finishes in the 200 and 400 medley relays, 100 Free (Osman), 100 Back (Boostma), and 500 Free (Runge).

Several other Cal top 10 records were rewritten as well last week. From

In the 1650 freestyle, freshman Cierra Runge placed third in 15:57.70, which put her No. 2 on the all-time Cal list behind Lauren Boyle’s 15:56.93 from 2009.

Marina Garcia also swam to a lifetime best in the 200 breaststroke, finishing third in 2:06.16 for the second-fastest time ever at Cal. Freshman Maija Roses was seventh in 2:13.49, which ranks 10th all-time at the school.

Freshman Noemie Thomas was third in the 200 butterfly in 1:54.63, a time that puts her fifth in the country and sixth in Cal history.

More on the meet results:

The Bears, who did not bring their divers to the meet, were second to No. 2 Georgia, 916-907, in the final standings. Georgia received 52 points from its divers. In addition, No. 9 Virginia was third (748) and was followed by No. 6 Auburn (405), No. 15 Penn State (363), Florida State (214), Virginia Tech (169), No. 19 UCLA (84) and Harvard (62).

The Bears will be off from competition until after the New Year when their Pac-12 dual season begins. Cal will have home meets vs. USC Jan. 30, UCLA Jan. 31 and Stanford Feb. 14.

Cal Swimming Alum and Future Bears

Want to see how Natalie Coughlin, Nathan Adrian, and Anthony Ervin train in Berkeley? The embedded video below is very much worth watching.

You can definitely see the fire in Natalie's eyes when she was talking about critics thinking how she is done after the London 2012 games. I also did not know that body surfing can be a form of training.

While the current Bears were doing their thing in Athens, Georgia, other Cal swimming alum were competing in either the Winter Nationals or the World Championships in Doha.

Nathan Adrian was at the Winter Nationals last week. He pulled off 3 race wins, including an unexpected one in 200 Free, to go along with wins in 50 Free and 100 Free.

You can rewatch Adrian's wins via the archived videos in the USA Swimming website.

Natalie Coughlin and a trio of incoming Golden Bears in Abbey Weitzel, Amy Bilquist, and Kathleen Baker along with other Cal alum like Caitlin Leverenz and Madison Kennedy were competing in Short Course world championship in Doha.

Cool combination of past and future Bears like this had good results:

There were of course other results:

Cal Men's Soccer News

While it looks like Cal Men's Soccer is winning our moment of the season poll from last week (click here to vote if you haven't done so) for the win over UCLA (who are in the College Cup as heavy favorites this weekend against Providence, Virginia, and UMBC), we might have more Golden Bears alum in the MLS next year.

Seniors Conor Hallisey and Seth Casiple are both invited to the MLS Combine in Fort Lauderdale, FL just before the MLS Draft next January in Philadelphia (I might drop by that if Cal Bears are going to be top picks again). Congrats to those two guys and good luck to them in making the jump to the pros.

Bears helping the community

Despite their busy schedule balance school work with world class athletics, several Cal Athletes found the time to give back to the community as well, hanging out with kids at the Oakland Boys and Girls Club.