Oct. 2, 2007
BERKELEY, CALIF. - Golden Bears Open 2007-08 Season Entertaining Pacific at Spieker Aquatics Complex
The California men's swimming team, coming off an eighth-place finish at the 2007 NCAA Championships and a second-place finish at the 2007 Pac-10 Meet, opens the 2007-08 campaign with a dual meet versus Pacific on Friday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Golden Bears feature eight returning All-Americans, including Dominik Meichtry, the 2007 Pac-10 champion and national runner-up in the 200 freestyle. Cal also welcomes 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's All-American Lineup
Cal's returning All-Americans from last season include seniors Meichtry (free), Mark Eckert (backstroke/Individual medley), Richard Hunter (breaststroke), William Copeland (sprint free), Jernej Godec (free/fly/back), Joe Whittington (free) and Louis Vayo (back/IM/free), and junior David 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 also competed on Cal's 400 medley relay that placed 10th, the 200 medley relay that placed 15th and was 12th in the 100 fly. He 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 an honorable mention All-American last year with an 11th-place finish in the 400 IM and a 12th-place finish in the 200 back at the NCAAs. He 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 an honorable mention All-American as a member of the Bears' 200 medley relay that placed 15th, and he 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 and was 16th in the 200 IM. 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 meet.
Introducing David Durden
Durden, a former top assistant at Auburn who for the last two seasons guided the University of Maryland's men's and women's swimming and diving teams, was hired to direct Cal's men's swimming program on Aug. 27. Durden replaced 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.
Along with Durden being named head coach of the Bears, Bart Kizierowski will be taking on the role of assistant coach. Kizierowski, a former Cal All-American (1998-2000) and a two-time Olympian for Poland, spent the last three years as a volunteer assistant coach for the Bears.
2006-07 Golden Bear Team Recap
In 2006-07, Thornton's Bears compiled a 5-3 dual-meet record and 2-2 mark in the Pac-10. With Cal's eighth-place finish in the team standings at the 2007 NCAA Championships, it was the 28th time in Thornton's 33-year career the Bears had placed in the top 10 at the national meet. Of the 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, finishing in a school-record time of 1:42.98.
The Bears placed second at the 2007 Pac-10 Championships, led by Meichtry, Russell and O'Neil. Meichtry captured the 200 free with a time of 1:33.82, Russell won the 100 back with a time of 46.93 and O'Neil won the 200 fly with a time of 1:45.00. The Bears were also conference runners-up in the 200 free, 400 free and 200 medley relays.
Honoring Nort Thornton
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. Through the years, his Bears have won 48 individual and relay NCAA championships and 108 Pac-10 individual, relay and diving titles. His 1979-80 and 1980-81 teams also captured Pac-10 team championships.
Thornton started his Bears' career with the 1974-75 season. The veteran coach has been named National Coach of the Year twice and has been the Pac-10 Coach of the Year four times, most recently in 1999. A product of San Jose State, Thornton led the Bears to NCAA team titles in 1979 and 1980 and produced a long list of stellar All-Americans. He has an even more impressive collection of Olympians, including world record holder Matt Biondi, Anthony Ervin, who won the gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Duje Draganja, who took silver in the 50-meter free at the 2004 Athens Olympics. 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.
Cal has a 64-6 all-time dual meet record versus Pacific, defeating the Tigers in the last meeting, 143-98, Oct. 13, 2006, in Stockton. Pacific is led by senior Wojciech Betlej, who competed in the 200 back at last year's NCAA meet, finishing 31st. During the 2006-07 season, Betlej set school records in the 100 bBack (48.59) and 200 back (1:44.96) at the Big West Swimming and Diving Championships.