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Golden Medals: Missy Franklin to train with Cal Men’s Swimming, follows in footsteps of Natalie Coughlin

Cal Men’s Water Polo rises to No.2 in the country.

NCAA Swimming: Division I Swimming and Diving-Championships
Missy Franklin is back in Berkeley to both finish his psychology degree and to rebound from a disappointing Rio 2016 Olympic.
Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

Cal Swimming

Just like Natalie Coughlin (in 2014 since December 2012, the twilight of her career), Missy Franklin will train under Dave Durden and with the Cal Men’s Swimming Pro group (one that was highly successful at Rio 2016) to rebound from her mediocre Rio 2016 Olympics when she won just one Gold medal (swimming the prelim of the 800 Free Relay).

Cal Men’s Swimming head coach Dave Durden is clearly a popular guy within the swimming community in recent years. He is likely on the shortlist of people who will be the headcoach for Team USA Swimming in Tokyo 2020 (though, Durden will most certainly be the head coach for the men rather than the women). Durden’s swimmers at Rio 2016: Nathan Adrian (3), Ryan Murphy (3), Josh Prenot (1), Tom Shields (1), and Jacob Pebley won 8 medals - not counting Anthony Ervin who trained under Durden for the most part before switching to David Marsh just before the Trials.

Here is the full statement from Missy Franklin:

I am back in California and will be working to finish my degree in psychology at UC Berkeley. I am excited to get back in the water and train with the strong group of post-grads at Cal under Coach Dave Durden. I had such an amazing time as a student-athlete at Cal, training under Coach Teri McKeever and swimming with such an amazing group of women, and I could not be more grateful to have spent my two years as a collegiate athlete with this group. Now, training as a professional athlete, I am confident that this environment is exactly what I need and it will be best for myself and those around me. I can’t wait to cheer on the women’s team at their meets this season and support them as a fellow Cal Bear, and to get to know my new teammates even better. Go Bears!

Natalie Coughlin was rejuvenated when she first switched to train with Durden and to be a full time sprinter (she did return to backstroke later). Coughlin had a great 2015 before a disappointing 2016, particularly at the Olympic Trials. Coughlin has said that she has not retired from competitive swimming. Since Coughlin’s switch to Durden coincided with Franklin’s arrival in Berkeley, this actually might be the first time that the two swimming legends will really train together.

With plenty of her 2015 NCAA national champion team teammates still on the team, in addition to her Olympic team teammates, Missy Franklin will obviously continue to support the Cal Women’s Swimming program.

After turning pro right after the 2015 NCAA championships, Franklin returned to Colorado to train with her high school coach Todd Schmitz. I just recently watched the documentary Touch the Wall (which is available on Netflix, FYI) which chronicled Franklin’s rise before the 2012 London games - the Colorado Star swimming program didn’t have the pedigree with Olympic athletes outside of Franklin and then Olympic vet Kara Lynn Joyce who relocated to Colorado to prolong her career.

A break from her familiar home pool and college team may just be what Missy Franklin needs to return to the summit of the swimming world. She’s obviously young enough and talented enough to get back there.

Several of the USA Calympians got to visit President Obama at the White House yesterday.

In 2016-17 Cal Women’s Swimming news, Cal competed in the annual Queen of the Pool competition with Cal Poly (but it was more just amongst the Cal Bears). Everyone swims all 4 strokes plus individual medley with the lowest total time crowned the queen.

2016 Rio 100 Back Silver medalist Kathleen Baker is the 2016 Queen of the Pool.

Baker dethrones 3x reigning queen Celina Li. Amy Bilquist finished 3rd with Abbey Weitzeil 4th and Katie McLaughlin 5th. Baker, Bilquist, Weitzeil, and McLaughlin were the 4 of the top 5 swimmers of the 2015 class (the other person of that group is Katie Ledecky) to all commit to Cal. Weitzeil, 2x Rio 2016 medalist, took an year off and is just starting her Cal career.

Cal Men’s Water Polo (11-1, 2nd place in Mountain Pacific Invitational)

Golden Bears suffered their first loss of the year in the final of the Mountain Pacific Invitational last weekend. After defeating USC 10-8 in the semifinal, Bears fell to 2x defending champs UCLA by a final of 10-7.

Host Cal routed Whittier 22-3 and UC Santa Barbara 15-8 to make the semifinal.

The overall successful weekend saw the Bears rise to No.2 in the national rankings. In the MPSF tournament final last year, Bears came the closest to beat the ultimately undefeated UCLA Bruins, when the Baby Bears edged the Golden Bears 12-11. There will surely be plenty more Cal vs. UCLA contests from the pool this season.

Cal Men’s Soccer (4-2-1), play Stanford on Sunday

Golden Bears will start Pac-12 play this weekend after defeating the 25th ranked UC Santa Barbara 3-2 on the road last week.

In a back and forth match, Golden Bears did not have the lead until Christian Thierjung scored the Golden Goal in the 96th minute in OT.

Bears will open Pac-12 play with the road leg of the Bay Area Derby down at The Farm on Sunday. Pac-12 Networks will have the match, starting at 5 pm PT. The preseason No.1 Stanford are 3-2-3 on the year, facing basically the same opponents as the Golden Bears.

Bears are currently 17th in RPI while Stanford is 53rd. Bears are receiving votes in the Coaches’ Poll but is only ranked in the non-official polls like this Bennett Rank.

Cal Women’s Soccer (9-2, 2-0 in Pac-12)

This past weekend, Bears won their Pac-12 opener with a 3-0 win over Oregon State.

Reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year, Arielle Ship, played the role of the facilitator in this one in setting up two goals.

Freshman Mia Corbin scored her first two goals of her collegiate career in this one.

On Thursday night, Bears hosted Washington. With a brace (2 goals) apiece from redshirt senior Ifeoma Onumonu and senior Arielle Ship (who also assisted on one of the Onumonu goal), Bears defeated the Huskies by a 4-1 final.

With a healthy Onomonu and great play from Ship, the Golden Bears are a dangerous team poised for greatness in 2016. Bears also have very solid defense and a sturdy goalie in Emily Boyd (the lone Washington goal was a long strike that was not defendable).

No.17 Bears will close the weekend and the homestand when they host Washington State on Sunday at 11 AM on the Pac-12 Networks before hitting the road with the LA trip. The match against UCLA will be next Thursday night at 7 PM PT (again on the Pac-12 Networks).

Cal Volleyball (6-7, 0-3 in Pac-12)

Behind the strong play of Ashten Smith-Gooden (14 kills and a hitting percentage of 0.481), Golden Bears went toe-to-toe with No.7 Washington on Thursday night before falling in 4 sets. It was a nice bounce back effort for the Bears after being easily swept by Oregon last Friday.

Against a top 10 ranked Stanford, the Bears also managed to win a set. There were definitely flashes of prolong brilliance from this squad but they must find consistency to pull off an upset here and there in Pac-12 play.

Bears will next get the shot to upset Washington State on Sunday at 11 AM PT (live video feed). The Cougars are ranked 17th in the country. Bears will then return home to host the mountain schools (Utah on Friday 10/7 and Colorado on Sunday 10/9) next weekend.

Cal Field Hockey (2-6)

Cal Field Hockey split their East Coast trip last weekend when they defeated Appalachian State 2-1 before falling to Wake Forest by a 6-2 result.

Senior Sydney Earle scored her first goal of the year which proved to be the difference against Appalachian State. Bears outshot the Mountaineers 17-7 in that contest.

Against No.14 Wake Forest, Bears allowed 2 goals in the first 12 minutes and never got back in the match.

Bears will next open American East (yes, Cal is in the American East conference for field hockey) play when they host UC Davis on Sunday at 2 pm PT.

Cal Cross Country

Golden Bears will run in two different events this weekend.

The stronger Golden Bears will be racing at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational today. The rest of the Bears will race in the Sacramento State’s Capital Cross Challenge on Saturday.

The USF Invitational a month or so ago was more or less a season opening warmup. We shall see how the Bears will do this weekend. The Cal women are on the cusp of being ranked in the top 30.