Cal Breaks NCAA 400 Free Relay Record at Championships

March 29, 2003

The University of California's 400-yard freestyle relay team set a new NCAA, U.S. Open and school record to close out the 2003 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, held in Austin, Texas. The Golden Bears placed fourth with 329 points at the national meet.

Cal's 400 free relay squad of sophomore Duje Draganja, freshman Michael Cavic and seniors Joe Bruckart and Anthony Ervin posted the fastest time in Golden Bear history in 2:48.99. Ervin anchored the Bears with an impressive split time of 41.78, while Draganja's split was 42.60, Cavic's was 42.31 and Bruckart's was 42.30.

The University of Texas hosted the meet at the Jamail Texas Swimming Center. Auburn University secured the national crown with 609.5 points. The Tigers won both the men's and women's national championship this year. Texas finished in second place (413 points), while Stanford took third place (374 points).

USC's Erik Vendt successfully defended his national title in the 1650 free (14:29.85) to start the final evening of the championships. In the second event, junior Alex Lim placed sixth in the 200 back in a season-best time of 1:42.70. That time is good for the second-best performance ever by a Golden Bear. Fellow junior Jeff Natalizio also scored points for Cal in the 200 back, finishing 16th in 1:46.46. Texas' Aaron Peirsol in a new American, NCAA and U.S. Open record of 1:39.16 won the event.

Draganja added another title on the evening, edging out three-time 100 free NCAA champion Ervin for his first ever national title. Draganja won the event in a personal best time of 42.02, good for the third-best performance ever in Cal history. Ervin finished as the runner-up at 42.11. Last season, Ervin won the event shattering his own American, NCAA and U.S. Open record in 41.62, while Draganja posted the runner-up finish in 42.22.

The next two races-the 200 breast and 200 butterfly-both were events in which Cal had no competing swimmers. Longhorn Brendan Hansen won the 200 breast in a new American, NCAA and U.S. Open record of 1:52.62, while Alabama's Stefan Gherghel won the 200 fly in 1:42.35. In the morning's preliminaries of the 200 breast, sophomore Caleb Rowe turned in a time of 1:58.92, while freshman Rick Barbosa finished in 2:01.70 and senior Quentin Byma touched the wall in 2:03.01.

For today's complete preliminary and finals results check and for a complete Cal recap and results.

The NCAA Championships conclude the Bears' 2002-03 season. However, a few Cal swimmers will compete in national events, starting with the U.S. National Championships, Apr. 1. Also, Ervin will compete for the United States' national team at the Apr. 6 'Duel in the Pool' showdown between the U.S. and Australia. The sport's best athletes from both countries face off as swimming's greatest rivalry is set to take place in Indianapolis, IN and will be broadcast nationally on NBC.

Cal Results from the 2003 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships-Sat., Mar. 29

Team Scores: 1. Auburn 609.5, 2. Texas 413, 3. Stanford 374, 4.California 329, 5. USC 268, 6. Florida 232, 7. Minnesota 228, 8. Arizona 205, 9. Michigan 173.5, 10. Virginia 125.

200-yard Backstroke-6. Alex Lim 1:42.70, 16. Jeff Natalizio 1:46.46. 100-yard Freestyle-1. Duje Draganja 42.02, 2. Anthony Ervin 42.11; (prelims) 32. Joe Bruckart 44.33, 34. Jens Thiele 44.35, 36t. Michael Cavic 44.44, 50. Matt Lyon 45.08. 200-yard Breaststroke-(prelims) 23. Caleb Rowe 1:58.92, 32. Rick Barbosa 2:01.70, 35. Quentin Byma 2:03.01. 400-yard Freestyle Relay-1. California (Draganja, Cavic, Bruckart, Ervin) 2:48.99.

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