No. 3 Cal Swims at Pacific Tigers Invitational

Oct. 26, 2004

This Week: All Day Friday and Saturday, Oct. 29-30,at the Pacific Tigers Invitational in Stockton, CA

The 2004-05 California men's swimming team (1-0) will compete at the Pacific Tigers Invitational this Friday and Saturday in Stockton, Calif. There is no diving at this event, which includes UC Davis, Cal State Bakersfield, UC Santa Cruz, Seattle University and host UOP. Cal won last year's Invitational.

Of the five opponents in Stockton, only UC Davis, Cal State Bakersfield and UOP have met Cal in dual meets. The Golden Bears most recently defeated Pacific, 150-102, on Oct. 10, 2003, to open the 2003-04 season. Cal holds a 61-6 all-time series record against UOP, a 10-1 record against UC Davis and a 10-0 record against Cal State Bakersfield. The Bears will host Pacific later this season in a Nov. 13 dual meet at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

The Bears opened at No. 3 in this season's first CSCAA (College Swimming Coaches Association of America) national poll, released on Oct. 22. Stanford is No. 2 and Auburn, last year's NCAA team champion, is No. 1.

Cal opened the 2004-05 season with a 171-127 victory over No. 24 Florida State on Friday, Oct. 22, at Spieker. Cal won 11 of the 14 events. Senior diver Louie Gagnet, a former Seminole who won the one- and three-meter springboard events, was the only Bear to win multiple events. He scored 346.20 points, a school record, on the one meter and 337.425 on the three meter. In another competition with FSU on Saturday, Gagnet set a school record (590.10) for an 11-dive three-meter event.

Cal's swept the 200 butterfly, won by sophomore Patrick O'Neil (1:49.06). Senior John Dorr (1:51.55) took second place and freshman Justin Pollard (1:52.49) was third. Cal's Chris Gibson, Caleb Rowe, Rolandas Gimbutis and Matt Lyon opened the meet by winning the 200 medley relay in a time of 1:32.22. Bears sophomore Daniel Lysaught won the day's first individual event, the 1000 freestyle, in 9:11.91. Other Cal winners included Alexander Holdridge in the 200 free (1:40.62), Gibson in the 100 backstroke (50.82), Graham Lentz in the 100 breaststroke (56.41), Lyon in the 50 free (20.95), Rowe in the 200 breast (2:03.57), John Foster in the 500 free (4:31.26) and Jernej Godec in the 100 fly (49.49).

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 free (23.26), while Gimbutis (Lithuania) was fifth in the 100 free (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 fly. 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.

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, 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. Freshman Zac Monsees is a contender in the 400 IM. But both Monsees and Talbott play for the Cal men's water polo team and 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, bolster Cal's divers.

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). Freshman Jernej Godec 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 212-81 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.

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.