GREENSBORO, N.C. -- California powered to its fourth NCAA championship Saturday led by sophomore Missy Franklin, who captured the 200-yard backstroke -- her third individual title of the meet.
Franklin, who also won the 200 individual medley Thursday, set an American record on her way to victory in the 200 free Friday and had a role in two relay wins, was named the NCAA Swimmer of the Year. Cal head coach Teri McKeever was also chosen the National Coach of the Year.
In the 200 back Saturday, Franklin trailed leader Courtney Bartholomew of Virginia through the first 150 yards. But for the final lap, Franklin swam a full second faster than her challenger and reached the wall in 1:47.91. Melanie Klaren finished sixth for the second year in a row in a lifetime-best 1:51.83, and Elizabeth Pelton rounded the Cal trifecta in the final with an eight-place result in 1:52.08.
Franklin joins Natalie Coughlin as the only Bears ever to win three individual titles at one NCAA Championships meet. Coughlin swept the 100 and 200 back and 100 butterfly three times from 2001-03. Franklin also established a school record for most combined individual and relay crowns at one NCAA meet with five. To top off her meet, she broke the school mark in the 100 free when she was timed in 46.66 leading off the final event, the 400 free relay.
“I'm so grateful for the experience that I've had,” said Franklin. “It's been a very emotional couple of days and I am just so proud of my team and what we've accomplished here.”
Cierra Runge started off the night for the Bears by finishing second in the 1650 free in 15:46.46 becoming the highest finishing Bear ever in the event. It also marked Runge’s second runner-up showing of the championships after placing second in the 500 free Thursday.
The Bears took second in the 400 free relay, but set a school record when Franklin, Rachel Bootsma, Camille Cheng and Farida Osman finished in 3:09.76.
“Happy, relieved,” said McKeever. “It hasn’t sunk it. It has but it hasn’t. As a coach, it’s just wonderful to see how much it means to the girls.”