Dec. 11, 2000
BERKELEY, CA - Optimism is high for the 2000-01 California men's swimming team and for good reason. The Golden Bears feature Anthony Ervin, arguably one of the world's best sprinters after winning NCAA titles in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle last season as a freshman, and then going on to win the gold medal in the 50-meter free at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
"Anthony will be like a gunslinger with everyone in the country after him, as well as other Cal guys pushing him," said Cal head coach Nort Thornton, whose Bears finished fifth in the nation last year. "He actually had more success than Matt Biondi (Cal's world record holder and eight-time Olympic gold medalist) did as a freshman. Matt was a little more traditional in his approach, and Anthony still has a lot of room for growth. But, Anthony is a winner and very observant. I am impressed with his technique. He has a great body for a sprinter, but he also has the feel for the water and the mind for what it takes to be successful. It will be a real test of his maturity to see how he reacts after doing so well at the Olympics."
Equally as valuable for coaches Thornton and Mike Bottom are Ervin's contributions in the relays. He was a member of Cal's national champion and record-setting 400-meter free relay, the Bears 200-meter free relay that placed second and Cal's 200-meter medley relay that placed fifth at the 2000 NCAAs.
But, the Bears are more than just Anthony Ervin.
Junior Matt Macedo is an outstanding all-around swimmer who placed fourth in the nation in the 100-meter free and sixth in the 50-meter free last season. Macedo also joined Ervin on the top relays, swimming the lead-off leg on Cal's national champion 400-meter free relay, second leg of the Bears 200-meter free relay and the backstroke leg of the 200-meter medley relay. He also has the school's second-best all-time mark in the 100 back (47.98) and fourth-best all-time marks in the 50 free (19.63), 100 free (42.99) and 200 back (1:44.66).
Senior Scott Greenwood is also a top sprinter and a standout in the relays. Greenwood has Cal's ninth-best all-time mark in the 50 free (19.99) and is a member of the Bears school record-setting and 2000 Pac-10 champion 200 and 400 free relays. He will also help Cal in the 100 fly.
A big boost to the Bears backstroke and butterfly corps will be the arrival of freshman Alex Lim, two-time National High School Swimmer of the Year (Swimming World) and the national record holder in the 100 back (46.82). Lim, originally from Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia, attended The Bolles School in Jacksonville, FL, where he was coached by former Cal swimmer Larry Shofe (1972, '74). Lim also set a Florida state record with a time of 47.64 in the 100 fly.
As a high school junior, Lim became the first prep swimmer to crack 47 seconds in the 100 back. His time of 46.82 in the 100 back was also better than the winning time of 47.12 at the 1999 NCAA Division I Championship. Lim competed in the 100-meter back for Malaysia at the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia.
"Alex is a fantastic athlete and a great young man," said Thornton. "He is serious about swimming and a very hard worker. He is a type of individual who is focused both in swimming and in academics. He is a great addition to our program."
Cal has one of the nation's top group of breaststrokers in sophomore Daniel Kim and juniors Andrew Chan and Peter Aronsson. Kim placed third in the 200 breast and fourth in the 100 breast at the 2000 Pac-10 Championship and has the school's fourth-best all-time mark in the 100 breast (54.29) and seventh-best time in the 200 breast (1:58.28). Chan placed fourth in the 200 breast at the Pac-10 meet and ranks third on the Cal list in the 100 breast (54.25) and sixth in the 200 breast (1:58.13). Aronsson placed sixth in the 200 breast at the Pac-10s and ranks eighth in the 100 breast (54.90) and 10th in the 200 breast (1:59.11) on the school's all-time list.
The Bears return two other 2000 NCAA participants, sophomores Joe Bruckart and Will Quist. Bruckart is a valuable all-around swimmer for Cal, qualifying for the NCAAs in the 200-meter IM, 200-meter free, 200-meter fly and was a member of the Bears 800-meter free relay that placed fourth at the Pac-10 Championship. He finished fifth in the 200 free (1:37.04), ninth in the 200 fly (1:46.57, seventh-best all-time Cal mark) and ninth in the 200 IM (1:47.44, ninth-best all-time Cal mark) at the Pac-10s. Quist, who is also a member of Cal's men's water polo team, qualified for the NCAAs in the 200 free (1:37.18) and was a member of the Bears 800 free relay.
"I feel pretty good about where we are entering the season, but the rest of the country also has some fast times" said Thornton. "I think we will be okay. The bar has been set high and a lot depends on how things fall together. Our strength should be in the sprints and the relays and if we could move up a spot or two at the NCAAs I'll be happy. I feel we are strong in the right places to be able to move up in the national standings."