March 27, 2010
COLUMBUS, OHIO - Behind individual national titles from freshman Tom Shields (100 fly) and junior Damir Dugonjic (100 breast), and a victory in the 200 medley relay, the No. 4 ranked California men's swimming team is leading the 2010 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships after 14 events Saturday (March 27) in Columbus, Ohio. The Golden Bears enter the meet's final day of competition Sunday with a 348.5-330 lead over Texas.
Cal opened Saturday with a victory in the 200 medley, its third NCAA relay title of the meet (won 200 free relay and 400 medley relay Friday). Behind the swims of junior Guy Barnea, Dugonjic, junior Graeme Moore and junior Josh Daniels, the Bears won in a time of 1:23.08.
"The relay was unbelievable," said anchor Daniels. "Guy (Barnea) started us off. Damir and Graeme had great splits to give us the lead and I just finished it off. I couldn't be more proud of my teammates. We are just feeling great and having a blast"
In the 100 fly, Shields proved why he is considered one of the nation's top young swimmers when he captured the event in a Cal school record time of 44.91, topping the previous record of 45.39 set by Duje Draganja in 2005. The Bears also received a boost when sophomore Mathias Gydesen was the national runner-up (45.83), Moore placed fifth (46.05) and junior Nathan Adrian was 13th (46.73).
Dugonjic repeated as the NCAA champion in the 100 breast, clocking in in a time of 51.65. Fellow junior Martti Aljand placed third with a mark of 52.32, senior Sean Mahoney was sixth with a time of 52.52 and sophomore Nolan Koon finished ninth with a 53.16.
"I really felt I needed to have a good, fast first 50 to get myself into the lead and to have a chance to win," said Dugonjic. "So I just went out fast and I went out easy."
Other important swims for Cal, which garnered the Bears points, were a 10th place finish in the 800 free relay (6:23.89, Adrian, Moore, freshman Ben Hinshaw, Shields), and Shields finishing 16th in the 200 free (1:39.85) shortly after winning the 100 fly. Sophomore Martin Liivamagi led a contingent of Bears in the 400 IM, placing 11 th (3:43.68), followed by senior Aaron Casey (13th, 3:46.77) and Hinshaw (14th, 3:46.95).
On Sunday, Cal will be competing in the 1650 free, the 200 back, the 100 free (with defending NCAA champion Adrian), 200 breast, 200 fly and 400 free relay, in an attempt to win its first NCAA men's swimming and diving title since winning back-to-back crowns in 1979 and 1980 under current head coach emeritus Nort Thornton.