March 8, 2008
LONG BEACH, CALIF. - The University of California men's swimming team finished strong Saturday night in the final evening of the 2008 Pac-10 Swimming Championships, held at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach, winning two individual events - junior David Russell in the 200 back and senior William Copeland in the 100 free - and placing second in the final team standings. The Golden Bears, ranked 11th in the national polls, trailed only No. 3-ranked Stanford, which won its 27-straight conference title, 865 to 769, but finished ahead of No. 2-ranked Arizona, 769 to 748.5. Arizona State was fourth with 371 points, USC was fifth with 328 points and Washington was sixth with 246.5 points.
Cal junior standout Russell captured the 2008 Pac-10 title in the 200 back with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:42.01, adding to his 2007 Pac-10 title in the 100 back. Other Bear finishers in the 200 back included senior Mark Eckert placing third with an NCAA automatic time of 1:43.42, senior Louis Vayo placing fifth with an NCAA consideration time of 1:44.55 and sophomore Aaron Casey placing eighth with a mark of 1:50.43.
Another conference winner for Cal in the final night of competition was senior sprinter Copeland, who added to his list of 2008 Pac-10 titles the 100 free in an NCAA automatic time of 43.03. Fellow senior Joe Whittington placed seventh in the 100 free with an NCAA consideration time of 43.87.
In the 200 breast finals, sophomore Sean Mahoney finished third with an NCAA automatic time of 1:56.30 and freshman Martti Aljand was fifth with an NCAA automatic mark of 1:56.89. In the finals of the 1650 free, senior Dominik Meichtry placed fifth with an NCAA consideration time of 15:24.79 and sophomore Aaron Casey was seventh with an NCAA consideration mark of 15:28.00. In the 200 fly, sophomore Matt Scanlan captured a sixth-place finish with an NCAA consideration time of 1:46.77.
In wrapping up the 2008 conference meet, Cal had Pac-10 champions in the 50 and 100 free (Copeland, whose 19.47 in the 50 free was the seventh-fastest time in school history), in the 200 back (Russell), the 400 medley relay (school-record 3:06.84; Russell, freshman Damir Dugonjic, senior Jernej Godec, Copeland), the 200 free relay (1:17.99; Copeland, Godec, senior Joe Whittington, freshman Graeme Moore; ninth-fastest time in school history) and the 200 medley relay (school-record 1:25.09; Russell, Dugonjic, Godec, Whittington). The Bears won six conference crowns in 2008 after winning two conference titles in 2007, when they also placed second in the meet.
"Twelve of our swimmers qualified for the NCAAs and that is what it is all about," said Cal coach David Durden. "We plan on being even a little sharper at the NCAAs. Will Copeland was a key for us with his wins in the 50 and 100 free and his relay splits, but it was really a great team effort. The team came in and made some huge improvements. It just shows that the team rankings don't mean a lot when you get into the championship format."
The Bears next compete at the 2008 NCAA Championships, Mar. 27-29 in Federal Way, Wash. Last season, Cal placed eighth at the national meet.
2008 PAC-10 MEN'S SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPS - 3/5/2008 to 3/8/2008 Host: University of California Berkeley, Sanction #: 08-031 March 5-8, 2008 Team Rankings - Through Event 21
1 Stanford University STAN 865 2 Univ of California Berkeley CAL 769 3 University of Arizona ARIZ 748.5 4 Arizona State University ASU 371 5 University of Southern Calif USC 328 6 University of Washington WASH 246.5