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Franklin’s California dreamin’ comes true

2015 Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving

When Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin decided to delay her professional swimming career so she could first compete in college, she did it with the team in mind.

“It would mean the world to me if my entire team could win an NCAA championship,” Franklin said in November as her final year at the University of California, Berkeley was starting. “It would be an incredible feeling.”

That incredible feeling arrived on March 21 in Greensboro, North Carolina, when California won its fourth national title in seven years with a 61-point victory over two-time defending national champion University of Georgia, capping a season that started with championship aspirations that were far from a foregone conclusion. California won all but one dual meet and was ranked in the top five all year by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. But it didn’t hold the top ranking alone until the final poll.

Behind Franklin’s championship performance, when she displayed the talent that helped her win five medals at the 2012 Olympics in London, California set a school record for most points on the opening night and pulled away over the final two days. Franklin helped California capture two relay championships and won three individual titles, joining Natalie Coughlin as the only Golden Bears to win three titles in a single NCAA championship. Franklin was named NCAA Swimmer of the Year, while coach Teri McKeever was named National Coach of the Year.

Franklin’s most memorable finish came in the 200-meter freestyle, which she won as a freshman while setting an American record. This time, as a sophomore, Franklin cut more than a second off that time, becoming the first woman to go under 1:40 in the event, finishing in 1:39.10.