No. 11 Cal Men's Swimming Travels to CS Bakersfield and USC

Feb. 4, 2008


Thu., Feb. 7 at CS Bakersfield Hillman Aquatics Center, Bakersfield, CA 1 p.m.Fri., Feb. 8 at USC McDonald's Swim Stadium, Los Angeles, CA 1 p.m.

The No. 11-ranked California men's swimming and diving team (3-1, 2-1) travels to Southern California this week to compete against Cal State Bakersfield (1-3) on Thursday, and Pac-10 foe USC (1-3, 1-2) on Friday. The Golden Bears look to capture two more dual meets after splitting with the Arizona schools (lost 182-118 to No. 2 Arizona, defeated ASU, 159.50-123.50) two weeks ago at Spieker Aquatics Complex, while also producing more 2008 NCAA automatic qualifying times. So far this season, Cal has three automatic qualifying times - junior David Russell in the 100 (46.56) and 200 back (1:42.58), and freshman Damir Dugonjic in the 100 breast (53.46) - and have 14 other NCAA B qualifying marks, including all relays. Cal is coming off an eighth-place finish at the 2007 NCAA Championships and a second-place finish at the 2007 Pac-10 Meet. The Bears have nine returning All-Americans, including senior Dominik Meichtry, the 2007 Pac-10 champion and NCAA runner-up in the 200 freestyle, and Russell, the 2007 Pac-10 champion in the 100 back. The Bears also welcome new head coach David Durden, the former top assistant at Auburn who helped guide the Tigers' men and women's teams to six NCAA team championships from 2002-05. Durden was most recently the head men's and women's swimming coach at Maryland from 2005-06.

Cal Versus CS Bakersfield and USC

Cal continues its 2007-08 dual meet competition against former NCAA Division II powerhouse CS Bakersfield, which is in the process of switching over to Division I status in men's swimming. The Bears lead the series 10-0, last winning, 111-68, Nov. 5, 1999. A top swimmer for the Roadrunners is junior Sampo Sissala, from Joensuu, Finland, with top marks of 1:41.06 in the 200 free, 52.08 in the 100 fly, 1:53.61 in the 200 fly and 1:55.94 in the 200 IM. Cal has three standouts from the Bakersfield area. Junior diver Sam Helvie, who won the one-meter competition against both Arizona (346.65) and Arizona State (351.52), senior sprinter Joe Whittington and junior butterflyer Matt Scanlan. Whittington last won the 50 free (20.13) against No. 2-ranked Arizona and the 100 free (44.96) versus Arizona State, while Scanlan placed first in the 200 fly (1:48.16) against the Sun Devils. On Friday, Cal goes to USC, where the Trojans lead the series, 48-17. However, the Bears won last year's match-up, 170-110, Jan 26, 2007 at Spieker Aquatics Complex. USC features senior sprint freestyler Richard Gosper (Melbourne, Australia), who has an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 50 free (19.54).

Against the Arizona schools

The Bears captured four events against No. 2 Arizona on Jan. 25, led by Whittington's victory in the 50 free (20.13), sophomore Sean Mahoney's win in the 200 breast (1:58.80) and Dugonjic's victory in the 100 breast (55.29). Diver Helvie was also victorious, capturing the one-meter competition. Against Arizona State Jan. 26, Cal had eight different individual winners and won the 200 medley relay (1:29.16, Russell, Dugonjic, Jernej Godec, Whittington). Helvie won the one-meter competition for the second day in a row. Seniors Louis Vayo, Godec, Whittington and Mark Eckert all won races in their final home meet. Vayo placed first in the 200 free with a season-best 1:37.04, Godec won the 50 free in 20.28, Whittington won the 100 free in 44.96 and Eckert captured the 200 back in a season-best 1:45.00. Other individual winners for Cal included Russell in the 100 back (50.09), Dugonjic in the 100 breast (54.74), Scanlan in the 200 fly (1:48.16) and Mahoney in the 200 breast (2:00.87).

Bears' 2008 NCAA Qualifiers

Besides automatic qualiflyers Russell and Dugonjic, the Bears have several NCAA B standard times as well. Cal's top three sprint freestyles in the 50 and 100 free (Godec, Whittington, William Copeland) own B standard times. Godec has a B standard time in the 100 fly (47.72); Eckert has B standard times in the 100 back (48.71), 200 back (1:45.41) and 200 IM (1:48.18); Vayo has B standard times in the 200 IM (1:49.13) and 400 IM (3:54.56); while Mahoney has B standard times in the 100 breast (54.95) and 200 breast (1:57.62). Additionally, the Bears have NCAA B standard times in all their relays - 200 medley (1:27.27 Russell, Dugonjic, Godec, Whittington), 400 medley (3:11.80 Russell, Dugoncic, Godec, Copeland), 200 free (1:20.15 Copeland, Godec, Whittington, Graeme Moore), 400 free (2:55.49 Whittington, Copeland, Godec, Moore) and 800 free (6:37.39 Vayo, Copeland, Aaron Casey, Martti Aljand).

Cal's All-American Line-up

Cal's returning All-Americans from last season include Meichtry (free), Eckert (backstroke/Individual medley), Richard Hunter (breaststroke), Copeland (sprint free), Godec (free/fly/back), Whittington (free), Vayo (back/IM/free), and Russell (backstroke). Meichtry placed second at the NCAA meet with a time of 1:33.45 in the 200 free, the second-fastest time in school history behind the eight-time Olympic gold medalist Matt Biondi's time of 1:33.03 set in 1987. He also helped the Bears to a seventh-place finish in the 800-free relay at the NCAA meet, along with fellow senior Vayo. Meichtry was the 2007 Pac-10 champion in the 200 free with a time of 1:33.82. He has the school's second-fastest time in the 500 free (4:15.89), set in 2006, and is a member of the school-record 800 free relay team. The Bears' 200-yard freestyle relay placed sixth in the 2007 NCAA meet and returns three of its members - Copeland, Godec and Whittington. Godec was second in the Pac-10 meet in the 50 free and has the school's third-best all-time mark in the 100 fly (46.32). Russell placed ninth at the NCAA Championships with his time of 1:41.81 in 200-yard backstroke, and was a member of Cal's 200 and 400 medley relays. He was the 2007 Pac-10 champion in the 100 back and has the school's second-best all-time mark in the 200 back (1:41.81) and third-best time in the 100 back (46.70). Eckert was second in the 200 back, third in the 400 IM and fourth in the 200 IM at the Pac-10 meet, and has the school's third-best all-time mark in the 400 IM (3:46.63). Hunter was seventh in the Pac-10 meet in the 100 breast. Copeland, besides being a member of Cal's 200 free and 200 medley relays, is on the school's all-time top 10 list in the 50 (19.59, 10th) and 100 free (42.97, 7th). Vayo was a member of the Bears' 800 free relay that placed seventh in the NCAAs. He joins Meichtry as a member of the school record-setting 800-free relay. Vayo has the school's fifth-best all-time mark in both the 200 (1:45.82) and 400 IM (3:48.54). Whittington, besides being a member of Cal's sixth-place 200 free relay, was on the Bears' 200 free relay that placed second at the Pac-10 Championships.

Introducing David Durden

Durden was hired to direct Cal's men's swimming program on Aug. 27, replacing Hall of Fame coach Nort Thornton, who retired in July after 33 years at the helm of Golden Bear swimming. Thornton will remain involved in the men's swimming program as an assistant. Durden, 31, spent five seasons at Auburn, including 2005 when he was the assistant head men's coach for the 2005 NCAA champion Tigers. Prior to being the No. 1 assistant and chief recruiting coordinator for the powerhouse Auburn men's team, he was an assistant coach for both the Tigers' men's and women's swim programs. During his tenure, the Tiger men's and women's teams won a total of six NCAA team championships - the men winning in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and the women winning in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The Auburn women finished second at the national meet in 2005.At Auburn, Durden was the primary coach for a number of world-class/postgraduate swimmers who were preparing for the World Championships and the World University Games. He mentored multiple world and NCAA record holders. Durden also served as the head coach for the Panama team at the 2004 Olympic Games and the 2003 Pan American Games. A 1998 graduate of UC Irvine, Durden earned a degree in electrical engineering. He competed on the Anteaters' swim team from 1994-97 and was the 1997 Big West Conference champion in the 200 butterfly.

2006-07 Golden Bear Team Recap

In 2006-07, Thornton's Bears compiled a 5-3 dual-meet record (2-2 in Pac-10). With Cal's eighth-place finish at the 2007 NCAA meet, it was the 28th time in Thornton's 33-year career the Bears were in the top 10 at the national meet. Of Pac-10 schools, only Stanford (second) and Arizona (third) placed higher. Cal collected its 35th individual national champion under Thornton when Patrick O'Neill captured the NCAA title in the 200-yard butterfly with a school-record 1:42.98. The Bears placed second at the 2007 Pac-10 meet, led by Meichtry, Russell and O'Neil. Meichtry captured the 200 free (1:33.82), Russell won the 100 back (46.93) and O'Neil won the 200 fly (1:45.00). The Bears were also conference runners-up in the 200 free, 400 free and 200 medley relays.

Honoring Nort Thornton - Head Coach Emeritus

Former Cal head coach Nort Thornton retired after 33 years at the helm of the Bears men's swimming program on July 26. Thornton led Cal to a dual-meet record of 231-85 (.731 winning percentage), produced back-to-back NCAA team titles in 1979 and 1980, and produced numerous individual national champions, including O'Neil, who won the 200-yard butterfly crown at the 2007 NCAA Championships. His Bears have won 48 individual and relay NCAA championships and 108 Pac-10 individual and relay titles.

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