Men's Swimming Opens the Season at the Tiburon Mile

Sept. 27, 2006

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The California Golden Bears will open the 2006-07 swimming season at the Tiburon Mile open water swim. The race will begin at 9 a.m. (PST) on Sunday, Oct. 1, off Ayala Cove on Angel Island.The Bears are returning nine All-Americans from their sixth-place NCAA team.

The Tiburon Mile was founded in 1999, by Robert C. Placak, a Marin County native and Tiburon resident. The race has quickly become known as the most competitive and prestigious open water swim event in the world. Hundreds of swimmers will converge upon the Tiburon, Calif., and battle the waters of The Raccoon Strait. This open water swim has attracted and still does attract many Olympic Athletes from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, including Natalie Coughlin, Klete Keller, Eric Vendt, and Kalyn Keller. The race draws from Olympians and World Champion swimmers from over 20 different countries, including Russia, Australia, South Africa, Italy, Brazil, Mexico and Canada.

The course is from the San Francisco Bay's Ayala Cove on Angel Island to the shore of Tiburon, Calif. The distance of the race is one nautical mile.

Cal returns nine All-Americans from last season. Those swimmers include junior William Copeland (200-medley relay, 200-free relay, 400-free relay, 100 free), junior Jernej Godec (200-medley relay, 200-free relay, 100 fly, 50 free, 400-medley relay), junior Dominik Meichtry (200 free, 500 free, 800-free relay), senior Daniel Lysaught (500 free, 1650 free), senior Patrick O'Neil (200 fly, 100 fly), sophomore David Russell (400-medley relay), junior Louis Vayo (800-free relay, 200 back) and junior Garrett Wagner (400-free relay, 800-free relay, 200 free).

In addition to the Bears returning swimmers, Cal will introduce several fresh faces this season. Those joining the team include Nathan Adrian, Guy Barnea, Matthew Benoit, Kenny Bower, Adrian Casey, Alex Cushing, Josh Daniels, Brooks Haller, Jimmy Henson, Troy Nissen, Daniel Owens, B.J. Scoggan, Scott Sorge, Ford Williams and diver Danny Harper.

Junior Dominik Meichtry returns this season, after earning All-American honors last year with his third-place finish in the 200 freestyle and his eighth place in the 500 freestyle. Last season, Meichtry swam the team's best time in the 200-yard freestyle (1:33.75) and the 500-yard freestyle (4:15.89). Meichtry was also a member of the school record setting 800-yard freestyle relay team (6:21.02).

Last season, junior Daniel Lysaught swam the Bears' best times in the 1000 freestyle (8:54.96) and the 1650 (14:58.96). He earned honorable mention All-American honors at the NCAA Championships with his 10th-place finish in the 500 freestyle and his 11th-place sentence in the 1000 freestyle.

At last year's NCAA Championship, the men's 200-yard freestyle team placed third (1:16.72). Junior Jernej Godec and William Copeland are the lone returnees from that four-member team.

In August, senior Patrick O'Neil was rewarded a spot on the 2007 Pan Am Games swimming team. The games will be held Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 17-22, 2007.

Nort Thornton, who was inducted into the ASCA (American Swimming Coaches Association) Hall of Fame in September of 2002, enters his 32nd season as the director of the California men's swimming team. Thornton led the 2005-06 Golden Bears to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. A true indication of Thornton's success is the fact that Cal has finished in the Top 10 nationally in 27 of the 32 years he has been at the helm of the Golden Bears program. Thornton, the dean of all Pac-10 swimming coaches, has led the Bears to two national championships - back-to-back titles in 1979 and 1980 - and produced a stellar cast of All-Americans. The veteran coach has an impressive 226-82 career dual-meet record, has been National Coach of the Year twice and has been the Pac-10 Coach of the Year four times, most recently in 1999. Thornton is assisted by co-head coach Mike Bottom. Bottom, now in his tenth season in Berkeley, has established himself as one of the world's top sprint coaches. Under his tutelage, former Bear Duje Draganja became one of the top sprinters in the world. The Croatian took silver in the 50 freestyle at the 2004 Athens Olympics and won five titles at the 2005 NCAA Championships. Bottom has also worked with former Cal All-American Milorad Cavic, who swam on three 2005 championship relays (200 free, 400 free and 200 medley). Cavic also finished second, and Draganja was third, in the 100 fly at the 2004 NCAA Championships. Former Cal sprinter Rolandas Gimbutis was also a part of the winning 2005 relays and, individually, placed fifth in both the 50 and 100 frees at last season's NCAA Championships. This season, Tom Davidson, joins the aquatics program as the diving coach. Prior to Cal he was the diving coach at Illinois State. While at Illinois State Davidson guided Emily Hirt to her first ever NCAA Zone diving championship. Hirt placed in the top 40 regionally with a score of 204.05 on the three-meter board, but did not advance to the final round.

The Bears will travel to Stockton, Calif., on Oct. 13 to face Pacific at 1 p.m. (PST).

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