Fourth-Ranked Men's Swimming and Diving Travels to the Desert to Open the Pac-10 Season

Jan. 3, 2007

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The No. 4 California Golden Bears will travel south to open up their Pac-10 season at No. 5 Arizona on Jan. 5 and No. 21 Arizona State on Jan. 6. The Bears will also compete against No. 12 Michigan at both meets. Cal was last in the pool on Dec. 1-3 at the Husky Invitational in Seattle, Wash., where the Golden Bears claimed first-place honors.

The No. 5 Wildcats are led by Frank Busch who is in his 18th season at Arizona. Busch, last year's NCAA men's coach of the year, was also the co-men's coach of the year in 2005. The Wildcats return 14 letterwinners and four All-Americans from last season's squad, which finished fourth in the Pac-10 and second at the NCAA meet. At the NCAA's last year, senior Adam Ritter was second in the 200 individual medley, junior Albert Subirats finished second in the 200 butterfly and junior Nick Thoman took third in both the 100 and 200 backstroke. Cal owns a 22-3 series record over Arizona, with Cal winning the last meeting 202-98, on Jan. 21, 2006.

No. 12 Michigan is lead by Head coach Bob Bowman, who is in his third season at the helm of the Wolverines. Bowman brings an undefeated Big Ten Conference dual-meet record into the 2006-07 collegiate season. Grant Burtch earned NCAA All-America honorable mention for his performance in the 400-yard medley relay. Peter Vanderkaay earned four NCAA All-American citations in 2005-06 (500-yard freestyle, 200-yard butterfly, 400-yard individual medley, and the 800-yard freestyle relay) and honorable mention in 2004-05 (400-yard individual medley. Vanderkaay also has two 2006 Big Ten championships to his name (400-yard individual medley and the 800-yard freestyle relay). The Bears and Wolverines have met 10 times, with the series evened up at 5-5 and Cal having the last advantage in 2005, beating Michigan 169-129.

The 21st-ranked Sun Devils welcome Cal to Mona Plummer Aquatics Center, after beating UNLV at home and dropping meets to UCLA, USC, Indiana and Purdue on the road. Arizona State also finished fifth in the Texas Invitational, after posting 278 points. Head coach Michael Chasson leads Arizona State, which finished fifth in the Pac-10 and 20th in nation last year. The Sun Devils return 13 letterwinners from last season. Cal owns a 23-4 over Arizona State, with Cal winning the last meeting last year, 159-78.

The fourth-ranked California men's swimming team got off to a quick start at the Husky Invitational and never looked back the rest of the weekend. The meet was held at the King County Aquatics Center, in Seattle, Wash. On the first day, the Bears claimed the top two spots in both the 200 free relay and the 200 medley relay. The squad of freshman Nathan Adrian, juniors William Copeland and Jernej Godec and freshman Guy Barnea won the 200 free with its winning time of 1:18.88, which also ranks 10th on Cal's all-time list. Junior Richard Hunter, freshman Scott Sorge, juniors Eric Dunipace and Dominic Cathey finished second with their time of 1:24.19. In the 400 medley relay, sophomore David Russell joined Hunter, Godec and Adrian to win the event with their time of 3:13.71. Cal's second team in the race, Barnea, Graham Lentz, Patrick O'Neil and Copeland, finished in second (3:19.49). Also during the first day of competition several prelims and finals were contested. In the 500 free, five Golden Bears advanced to the finals. Junior Dominik Meichtry won both the prelims (4:25.21) and the final (4:18.72). Senior teammate Daniel Lysaught finished behind him in both the prelims (4:29.14) and the final (4:21.45). Also placing in the finals was freshman Aaron Casey in fourth (4:30.70), junior Louis Vayo in fifth (4:30.71) and junior Michael Jafari in sixth (4:32.58). In the 200 IM, all but two qualifiers for the finals were Golden Bears. Junior Mark Eckert won the event with his season-best time of 1:48.08. Senior O'Neil was clocked at a season-best 1:50.40 to finish second. Other Bears that placed in the event were sophomore Matt Scanlan (third, 1:52.31), Russell (fourth, 1:52.31), Hunter (seventh, 1:55.97) and Cathey (eighth, 1:56.32). After winning the prelims (19.52, season-best) in the 50 free, Godec finished second in the final race with his time of 19.85. Copeland finished in third (19.88), Adrian in fourth (20.04), Barnea in sixth (20.68) and Dunipace in seventh (21.12). On the second day of the competition, Cal placed three teams in the top five of the 200 medley relay. The squad of Russell, Hunter, Godec and Copeland finished first with their team-best time of 1:28.42. That time also is 10th on the Cal all-time list. The second place team of Barnea, Lentz, Cathey and Adrian was clocked at 1:30.32. In fourth place, Dunipace, freshman Troy Nissen, O'Neil, Sorge finished in 1:34.47. The Bears also found success in the 400 IM. After claiming the 200 IM title the day before, Eckert also won the 400 IM with his season-best time of 3:51.55, after finishing fourth (4:01.23) in the prelims. Finishing behind Eckert was teammate Vayo with his season-best time of 3:53.36. Vayo had won the prelims after being clocked at 3:59.41. Other Golden Bears who finished in the top five were Casey (third, 3:58.60) and sophomore Ian Lentz (fifth, 4:03.62). In the 100 fly on Saturday, O'Neil claimed the race with his final time of 47.56, a season-best. He had finished second (47.85) behind Godec in the prelims. Godec finished third in the finals with his time of 48.00, after posting a season-best 47.68 in the prelims. Adrian was clocked at a season-best 47.92 in the finals, finishing second. Barnea finished fourth (48.35, season-best), Cathey placed fifth (48.70, season-best) and Copeland finished sixth (49.40, season-best). Meichtry won the 200 free with his team-best time of 1:34.76. His time now stands sixth on Cal's all-time list. Lysaught finished third with his season-best time of 1:38.24. In the 100 breast, Hunter posted a time of 56.85 to finish second. Right behind Hunter, Nissen finished in third (57.20, season-best). Graham Lentz placed sixth (58.10, season-best) and Paul Hernandez finished eighth (59.27, season-best). Russell finished first in the 100 back with his season-best time of 46.75. Godec finished behind Russell in second (49.53, season-best) and Eckert placed third (49.63, season-best). Other Bears in the race were Barnea (fourth, 49.75) and sophomore Ryan Emanuel (fifth, 50.22). On the final day of the competition, Adrian, Copeland, Godec and Meichtry teamed up to win the 400 free relay with their team-best time of 2:54.17. In the 1650 free, Lysaught finished second with his season-best time of 15:26.03. Other Bears in the race were Jafari (fourth, 15:40.04), Casey (fifth, 15:41.64) and Meichtry (sixth, 15:53.35). Russell captured his second 200 back titles with his season-best time of 1:43.26. Eckert placed second after being clocked at 1:44.96. Vayo (1:46.28, season-best) and Barnea (1:48.03, season-best) finished third and fourth respectively. Also competing in the race were Emanuel (sixth, 1:52.21) and Casey (seventh, 1:52.67). In the 100 free, Adrian finished second (44.39), Meichtry placed third (44.52, season-best) and Godec finished fourth (44.58, season-best). Nissen posted his career-best of 2:05.06 to finish second in the 200 breast on Sunday. Also in the race, Hernandez placed fifth (2:08.28, season-best) and Hunter finished seventh (2:09.06). O'Neil captured his second 200 IM title also on the last day of the Invitational. O'Neil was clocked at a season-best 1:46.40 to win the event. Scanlan finished behind O'Neil in second with his season-best time of 1:48.56 and junior Justin Pollard placed third (1:49.32). Cathey was clocked at 1:51.52 for fifth place and Ian Lentz finished seventh (1:52.06). The divers also competed that weekend, but at the Georgia Invitational. Junior Javier Rivas finished second on the one-meter with his season-best mark of 287.05, after posting a 265.35 in the prelims. Sophomore Sam Helvie finished behind Rivas in third with his mark of 280.30. Going into the final round, Helvie was in second after posting a 335.40 in the prelims. Also in the one-meter were Mark Wes (seventh, 246.95) and Danny Harper (10th/231.40). On the three-meter, Helvie placed second (330.15, season-best) and Rivas was fifth (263.10). Also in the competition were Danny Harper (seventh, 228.45) and Wes (tenth, 210.95). The divers also competed on the platform for the first time this season. Rivas took second with his mark of 261.05. Helvie finished fourth (251.35), Wes placed (199.45) and Harper (185.20).

A + Adrian:
Entering the Pac-10 season, freshman Nathan Adrian has already made a statement in only a few meets. Already in his initial campagin, Adrian has captured titles in the 200 free (twice), 50 free (once) and 100 free (once). His 50-free time of 20.08 from the Texas/Indiana meet is the team's top time in that event. He also holds the team's best times in the 100 free (44.27, 11/3-4). Adrian has also swam the first leg of the Bears' 400-free relay team, which has won the event at the last four consecutive competitions, including the team's best time of 2:54.17 at the Husky Invitational.

At the Husky Invitational, Jernej Godec, William Copeland and Nathan Adrian all were clocked at there season-best in the 50 free. Godec's time of 19.85, was also his Cal career-mark. Copeland's time of 19.88 beats his previous best of 20.23 in the 50 free. Adrian, who had won the event against Texas and Indiana, improved his time from 20.08 to 20.04.

Sophomore David Russell's expectations are starting to be met. At the Husky Invitational, he swept both backstroke events, winning the 100 with his time of 46.75 and the 200 back (1:43.26). This was Russell's second straight event title in the 200, after winning the event against Texas and Indiana with his time of 1:45.36. He also had previously won the 100 back at Pacific, with his season opening time of 49.52.

Against some of the best competition in the country, Cal succeeded at winning a couple relay races against Texas and Indiana. The Bears' squad of Nathan Adrian, William Copeland, Jernej Godec and Dominik Meichtry won the 400-free relay with its time of 2:58.91, edging Texas' team by a second. Cal also claimed honors in the 200-medley relay with its time of 1:29.91 (Russell, Hunter, Godec and Copeland) and in the 400-medley relay, with the team of David Russell, Richard Hunter, Jernej Godec and William Copeland and their time of 3:15.08.

In his first meet off the boards, sophomore diver Sam Helvie posted his season-best marks at the Georgia Invitational, on the three-meter with his final mark of 319.60. Against Texas and Indiana he finished third on the one-meter, with his score of 294.20. Both scores are the team's best in each respective event.

Junior Dominik Meichtry swam a season-best in the 100 free (44.52), the 200 free (1:34.76) and the 500 free (4:18.72). His times in the 200 free and 500 free were event winning times. This was Meichtry's first 200-free victory and second 500 free win (the first came against Cal State Bakersfield). Meichtry has swum the last leg of the 400-freestyle relay team, which has won the event in three consecutive meets.

Against Cal State Bakersfield, the Bears raced four relay teams in the 400 freestyle relay - finishing in the top four positions. The winning team of Nathan Adrian, Eric Dunipace, Ian Lentz and Richard Hunter won the race with its final time of 3:06.87. Less than a second behind that Cal quartet was he squad of William Copeland, Patrick O'Neil, Justin Pollard and Matthew Scanlan, which finished second with its time of 3:07.43. The other two teams finished third (3:13.13) and fourth (3:13.21), respectively, and Cal State Bakersfield finished fifth (3:14.35).

Cal returns 10 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), junior Garrett Wagner (400-free relay, 800-free relay, 200 free) and junior Joe Whittington (200-free relay) .

In August, senior Patrick O'Neil was rewarded a spot on the United States' 2007 Pan Am Games swimming team. The games will be held in 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 33rd 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 10th 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 split the team between The Dallas Morning News Invitational in Dallas, Texas, on Jan. 12-13 and the Cal Invitational held on the Berkeley campus for three days (Jan. 13-15).

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