Cal Treks to Atlanta for NCAA Championships

March 21, 2006

BERKELEY, Calif. -

Third-ranked California heads to the 83rd annual NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, Wednesday through Friday, March 23-25 in Atlanta, Ga. Georgia Tech is the host of the championships, which will be held at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. The Golden Bears, who have won two NCAA Championships, in the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons, took fourth place at the 2005 NCAA Championships.

Cal head coach Nort Thornton and co-head coach Mike Bottom bring 16 swimmers to the championships. That group includes seniors Henrique Barbosa and Milorad Cavic and junior Jonas Tilly, the only members of the current Bears squad that have won NCAA titles. Cavic was a member of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay in 2003 and joined Tilly on the winning 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relays in 2005. Barbosa and Cavic were on the winning 200-yard medley relay last season. will provide complete coverage of the Bears at the NCAA Championships. Results can also be found on the Georgia Tech NCAA Championships Web site at

ESPN2 will broadcast a tape-delayed version of the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships at 1:30 p.m. ET on March 31.

Cal freshman Sam Helvie took ninth place and sophomore teammate Javier Rivas was 10th on the platform final on Feb. 25, the final day of the NCAA Zone E Diving Regional. Neither Golden Bear, nor sophomore teammate Mark Wes, who competed at the regional but not on the platform, qualified for the upcoming NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships via the regional, which qualified eight divers for Atlanta. Helvie scored 517.45 and Rivas scored 511.00 on the platform.

Helvie took eighth place (570.30), Rivas was 15th (507.75) and Wes was 20th (208.70) on the one-meter springboard final at the NCAA Zone E Diving Regional on Feb. 24. In the Feb. 23 three-meter final, Helvie was 14th (528.30), Rivas was 15th (525.50) and Wes was 18th (466.70).

The following 16 Cal swimmers will compete at the 2006 NCAA Championships in Atlanta: seniors Henrique Barbosa, Milorad Cavic, Matt Lyon and Miguel Molina; juniors Graham Lentz, Daniel Lysaught, Patrick O'Neil and Jonas Tilly; sophomores William Copeland, Mark Eckert, Jernej Godec, Dominik Meichtry, Louis Vayo, Garrett Wagner and Joe Whittington; and freshman David Russell.

Cal placed fourth at the NCAA Championships - the Bears' 14th top five finish under head coach Nort Thornton - at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center March 23-26 in Minneapolis, Minn. Duje Draganja, the 2005 Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year, concluded a four-year career by winning two individual crowns -100 butterfly and 100 freestyle - and helping the Bears win three relays - 200 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay - at the NCAA meet.

Draganja set a slew of records, including an NCAA, U.S. Open and pool record time of 41.49 in winning the 100-yard freestyle. He set a Cal and pool record of 45.39 in winning the 100 butterfly.

He led off the winning 200-freestlye relay, which included Rolandas Gimbutis, sophomore Jonas Tilly and junior Milorad Cavic swam an NCAA, NCAA meet, U.S. Open, poll and Cal record time of 1:15.78. Draganja also led off the winning 400-freestyle relay, which included Cavic, Tilly and Gimbutis and swam an NCAA, U.S. Open, pool and Cal record time of 2:47.70.

The winning 200-medley relay swam a pool record 1:25.30 and included the foursome of Cavic, Barbosa, Draganja and Gimbutis.

Cal won three relays and senior Henrique Barbosa won the 100-yard breaststroke as the Bears took second place overall at the 2006 Pac-10 Men's Swimming Championships March 1-4 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way, Wash. The Bears scored 796 points to finish as the conference runner-up behind Stanford (880), which won its 25th straight Pac-10 crown.

Barbosa set a new school record with an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 52.90 to win his breaststroke title. He surpassed the record time of 53.31 set by former teammate Caleb Rowe at the 2005 Pac-10 Championships. The product of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, also swam the second leg of the winning 400-medley relay, which included freshman David Russell, senior Milorad Cavic and junior Jonas Tilly and swam a season-best and automatic NCAA qualifying time of 3:08.87.

The Cal quartet of sophomore William Copeland, sophomore Jernej Godec, Tilly and Cavic swam a season-best and automatic NCAA qualifying time of 2:51.27 to win the 400-freestyle relay. That time ranks the 2006 Bears fifth on Cal's all-time 400-free relay list.

The Bears' other victory came in the first race of the conference championships, the 200-medley relay. The Cal foursome of Russell, Barbosa, Godec and Cavic won in an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 1:25.44.

At the Pac-10 Men's Diving Championships Feb. 23-25 in Federal Way, Wash., freshman Sam Helvie had Cal's best finish, taking fourth on the platform with a score of 271.35. Bears sophomore Javier Rivas was seventh (239.05) on the platform. On the one-meter springboard, Rivas had Cal's best finish, taking eighth (271.85). On the three-meter board, Helvie led the way for Cal, with a ninth-place finish (283.15).

Cal's loss at Stanford on Feb. 18 dropped the Bears from the top spot to third in the last College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) national top 25 rankings. Stanford replaced Cal at No. 1. Defending NCAA champion Auburn is ranked No. 2, USC is No. 4 and Florida is No. 5.

The Pac-10 Conference named California freshman Sam Helvie its Pac-10 Diver of the Month for December after the Bakersfield, Calif., product won the platform title on Dec. 3, 2005, at the Texas Invitational in Austin, Texas. Helvie scored 282.85, and became the first Golden Bear diver to win an event at the invitational. This is the first monthly honor for Helvie and Cal's first Diver of the Month all-time.

Helvie also set a school record (375.92) and beat decorated Arizona State All-American Joona Puhakka when the young Bear won the one-meter springboard in the 159-78 dual-meet win over the Sun Devils on Jan. 20 at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Helvie also won the one-meter board (332.92) in a 202-98 dual-meet win over Arizona on Jan. 21 in Berkeley.

California All-American swimmer Miguel Molina won three gold medals - in the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys and the 200-meter breaststroke - and a silver and a bronze at the 23rd South East Asian Games held Nov. 27-Dec. 5 in the Philippines. The 21-year-old Golden Bears senior, who competes internationally for the Philippines, also set Filipino national records in his three victories.

At the SEA Games on Nov. 30, Molina won the 200 IM in a time of 2:03.80, eclipsing his own previous record of 2:04.64 set at the World Championships last summer in Montreal. On Dec. 2, he won the 200 breaststroke in a time of 2:16.88, which also broke a record of 2:18.71 Molina previously set at the 2005 World Championships. Molina swam a 4:26.21 to win the 400 IM on Nov. 29 and break the previous Filipino record of 4:30.31. He also took second in the 200 free (1:52.83) on Dec. 3 and anchored the 400-medley relay to help the Philippines take bronze (3:52.35) on Dec. 3.

Cal swimmer Jonas Tilly was named Pac-10 Men's Swimmer of the Month for October. Tilly, a junior from Trelleborg, Sweden, helped the Golden Bears to a winning start in the 2005-06 season. At a tri-meet with Texas and Florida, Tilly won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.37 and the 100-yard freestyle in an NCAA B standard qualifying time of 44.44. He also anchored four winning relays at the meet in Austin, including the 200-free relay (1:20.36), the 400-free relay (2:59.01), the 200-medley relay (1:30.21) and the 400-medley relay (3:16.94).

Tilly was the only Cal swimmer to win multiple races in the school's win at the Pacific Tiger Invitational in Stockton, Calif. He won the 50-yard freestyle (20.76) and the 100-yard freestyle (45.66).

This is the first monthly honor for Tilly and Cal's first Swimmer of the Month all-time. Tilly was also named the Swimmer of the Week for his performances against Texas and Florida.

Cal men's swimming co-head coach Mike Bottom was named an assistant men's coach to the U.S. team that will compete at the 2006 Short Course World Championships April 5-9 in Shanghai, China. The ninth-year Cal coach was previously a U.S. assistant coach during the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

Bottom is no stranger to the international scene, having coached various U.S. and foreign swimmers to success at the Olympics, World Championships, NCAA Championships and other competitions. He coached U.S. swimmer Gary Hall, Jr., and former Golden Bear Duje Draganja of Croatia to a 1-2 finish in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2004 Athens Olympics and coached Hall and former Golden Bear Anthony Ervin to a tie for the gold medal in the 50 free at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Under Bottom's mentoring, Draganja also won two individual titles (100-yard butterfly and 100 free) and was a member of three winning relays (200- and 400-free relays and the 200-medley relay) at the 2005 NCAA Championships. At the 2002 European Championships, he coached former Bear Gordan Kozulj (Croatia) to the gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke and coached former Bear and current Cal volunteer assistant coach Bart Kizierowski (Poland) to the gold medal in the 50 free.

A former Olympic team member and USC All-American, Bottom was a member of three of the Trojans' NCAA Championship teams from 1975-77. He later coached the USC women to their first NCAA title in 1997.

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