Cal Opens Season Against Florida State

Oct. 19, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. -

1 p.m., Fri., Oct. 22 vs. Florida Stateat Spieker Aquatics Complex

The 2004-05 California men's swimming & diving team opens its season with a dual meet against visiting Florida State at 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Cal has never met the Seminoles, who bring both their men's and women's squads to take on the Golden Bears.

Cal Olympians Alex Lim and Renato Gueraldi and fellow 2003-04 senior Jeff Natalizio are gone, but they leave behind an experienced group led by All-American seniors Duje Draganja, Caleb Rowe and John Dorr, All-American juniors Milorad Cavic and Henrique Barbosa and All-American sophomores Rolandas Gimbutis, Daniel Lysaught and Jonas Tilly. Draganja, Barbosa and Gimbutis all competed in the recent 2004 World Championships in Indianapolis. Draganja, swimming for Croatia, won the bronze medal in the 50 freestyle (23.26), while Gimbutis (Lithuania) was fifth in the 100 freestyle (48.62) and Barbosa (Brazil) was seventh in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.33). Last spring, Draganja was an NCAA finalist in the 50 and 100 freestyle events and joined Cavic in the top three in the 100 butterfly. Rowe, Dorr, Draganja and Cavic all played important roles in Cal's strong relay teams at the Pac-10 and NCAA Championships. Draganja, Cavic and Tilly will lead a strong group of swimmers in the sprint freestyle and butterfly events, while Lysaught gives Cal a strong presence in the distance freestyle events. However, Cavic and Draganja are not expected to rejoin the Bears until January.

Cal senior diver Louie Gagnet competed his freshman season for Florida State, winning the one- and three-meter ACC titles to earn ACC Most Valuable Diver honors in 2002. He also earned All-ACC honors at the conference meet and was named the school's Most Valuable Diver. At NCAAs, he finished 17th on the platform, 18th on the three-meter and 28th on the one-meter for the Seminoles. A first-team All-Pac-10 pick in his first season as a Golden Bear last year, Gagnet finished 12th in the platform dive, 13th in the 3-meter dive and 25th in the 1-meter dive at the NCAA Championships.

Neil Harper, a member of Swaziland's 2004 Olympic swimming coaching staff and a former Olympic swimmer himself for Great Britain in 1984 and 1988, is in his sixth season coaching Florida State. He led FSU to a second-place finish at the 2004 ACC Championships last season. The Seminoles opened the 2004-05 season with a 129-112 dual meet win over Clemson on Sept. 25 and followed that with a 253-54 win over Florida A&M on Oct. 15 in Tallahassee, Fla. Junior Joel Roycik, a two-time All-ACC swimmer, is the defending ACC champion in the 100 butterfly. He took 34th in the 100 fly and 49th in the 100 freestyle at the 2004 NCAA Championships.

A large incoming class could help boost Cal back into the top five teams in the country. The Bears bring in a strong contingent of swimmers who will keep them strong in the sprints. Freshmen Jernej Godec, who swam in Slovenia's 4x100 freestyle relay at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Joe Whittington, who competed in the 50 freestyle at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, Chris Talbott, who won the last two Central Coast Section 200 freestyle titles, Justin Pollard, the 2004 CCS 50 free champion, and William Copeland, the Virginia state record-holder in the 50 and 100 free, will help fill the void in the sprint freestyle events until Cavic and Draganja return. The biggest holes to fill over the course of the season will be in the backstroke events, which Lim and Natalizio anchored over the past four years. Cal will look to freshmen Louis Vayo and Mark Eckert as likely candidates to join sophomore Chris Gibson in swimming the backstroke. Earlier this year, Eckert won Hawaii state titles in the 100 backstroke and 200 IM, while Vayo competed in the 100 and 200 back, the 200 free and the 200 IM at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials. A contender in the 400 IM, freshman Zac Monsees who plays for the Cal men's water polo team, will join the swim team when the water polo season is over. Michael Jafari joins Lysaught and junior Ryan Lean in the distance freestyle events; Jafari's best times in the 1000 and 1650 would have ranked third and second, respectively, on Cal's 2003-04 team. Javier Rivas, the Southern Pacific Association Diver of the Year from 1998-2003, and Mark Wes, an Atherton product who took sixth at the 2002 Central Coast Section Championships, give depth to the diving ranks.

2003-04 RECAP
Duje Draganja had a standout performance at the 2004 NCAA Championships, where Cal took seventh place. He took second in the 100 freestyle in 46.64 and fourth in the 50 free (21.61), and helped the Bears take fourth in the 400 medley relay (Alex Lim, Caleb Rowe, Milorad Cavic and Draganja in 3:30.82) and third in the 200 medley relay (Lim, Cavic, Henrique Barbosa and Draganja in 1:35.02). Cavic (50.81) and Draganja (51.56) finished 2-3 in the 100 butterfly, behind only the world record setting swim of Ian Crocker (49.07). The Texas and eventual U.S. Olympic swimmer broke the world record Cavic set the previous December. At the Pac-10 Championships, Cal finished second (773 points) for the third straight year. Individually, Draganja won the 50 free (19.17) and 100 free (Pac-10 meet record 41.96) and Cavic won the 100 fly (Pac-10 and meet record 45.44). The Bears dominated the relays, winning the 400 free relay (Rolandas Gimbutis, Jonas Tilly, Cavic and Draganja in 2:52.75) for the fifth straight time, the 400 medley relay (Lim, Barbosa, Cavic and Draganja in 3:07.31), the 200 free relay (Draganja, Cavic, Renato Gueraldi and Tilly in 1:17.23) and the 200 medley relay (Lim, Rowe, Cavic and Draganja in 1:25.16).

Twelve current, former and future Golden Bears competed at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens this summer. Returning senior Duje Draganja was the only medallist, winning the silver for Croatia in the 50 freestyle in 21.94. Others who competed were returning swimmers Henrique Barbosa (Brazil), Milorad Cavic (Serbia & Montenegro), Rolandas Gimbutis (Lithuania), Miguel Molina (Philippines) and Jonas Tilly (Sweden) and former Bears Renato Gueraldi (Brazil), Bart Kizierowski (Poland), Gordan Kozulj (Croatia), Alex Lim (Malaysia) and Ratapong 'Nuk' Sirisanont (Thailand). Jernej Godec, a freshman on the current team, swam for Slovenia in Athens.


HEAD COACH Nort Thornton
Nort Thornton, who was inducted into the ASCA (American Swimming Coaches Association) Hall of Fame in September of 2002, enters his 31st season as the director of the California men's swimming team. Thornton, the dean of all Pac-10 swimming coaches, led the 2003-04 Golden Bears to a seventh-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 25 of the 30 years he has been at the helm of the Golden Bears' program. In addition, Thornton 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 211-81 (.722) 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.

Championship performance at Cal is synonymous not only with Thornton's teams, but with the numerous individuals he has coached over the last 28 years. Since Thornton took over the Cal program, 48 Cal athletes have represented several countries in the Olympic Games, winning 29 medals, including 14 gold, 10 silver and five bronze. During the 1992 Olympics, Thornton was selected as an assistant coach, and 13 of his Bears competed in Barcelona, Spain.

Thornton has coached numerous United States teams in world competition. In 1979, he coached the U.S. squad in the FINA Cup in Tokyo, Japan, and then in 1981 coached the U.S. team at the World University Games. In the summer of 1983, Thornton was an assistant coach for the United States team at the Pan American Games at Caracas, Venezuela. He served in the same capacity at the 1986 World Championships in Madrid, Spain, and in Perth, Australia, in January, 1997, as well as the August '97 Pan Pacific Games in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

California co-head swim coach Mike Bottom, now in his eighth season in Berkeley, has established himself as one of the world's top sprint coaches. Last season, he and head coach Nort Thornton directed Cal to a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Under his tutelage, Duje Draganja has become one of the top sprinters in the world. The Croatian took silver in the 50 freestyle, behind Gary Hall Jr., another Bottom-coached swimmer, at the 2004 Athens Olympics and more recently won bronze in the 50 butterfly at the 2004 World Championships. Bottom has also worked with Milorad Cavic, who, with Draganja, finished 2-3 in the 100 fly at the 2004 NCAA Championships. A former USC swimmer and USC and Auburn assistant coach, Bottom's work coaching sprinters began in the 1990s and expanded to include several of the top swimmers in the world, including former Bears Anthony Ervin, Gordan Kozulj and Bart Kizierowski. Internationally, Bottom's sprinters have won five Olympic medals in Sydney, one medal in Athens and various World and European Championships.

Ron Kontura was hired Aug. 10, 2004, to take California's diving program to the world-class level. Kontura brings a decade of elite club and collegiate experience to Berkeley. Kontura was both the diving coach and director of business operations of Nadadores Diving in Mission Viejo, Calif., from 2002-2003. Kontura earned his Master's in Business Administration from Illinois State University in 1999 and his Bachelor's in Business Administration from Ohio University in 1991.

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