March 5, 2008
LONG BEACH, CALIF. - The No. 11-ranked California men's swimming team started the conference meet off on a high note, winning the opening event, the 200 medley relay, in a school-record time of 1:25.09 Wednesday at the 2008 Pac-10 Conference Swimming Championships, hosted at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach, Calif.
The Golden Bears, under the direction of first-year coach David Durden, became automatic qualifiers for the NCAA championships in the 200 medley relay as Cal upended favorite Arizona and Stanford to win the conference title. Led by junior David Russell (21.81) in the backstroke, freshman Damir Dugonjic in the breaststroke (23.46), senior Jernej Godec in the butterfly (20.81) and senior Joe Whittington in the freestyle (19.01), the Bears swam the fastest time in school history. The previous school-best time was 1:25.16, set in 2004 (Alex Lim, Caleb Rowe, Milorad Cavic, Duje Draganja).
No. 2-ranked Arizona placed second in the 200 medley relay at 1:25.57, while No. 3-ranked Stanford was third with a time of 1:25.59.
In the second event of the evening, the Bears placed third in the 800 free relay with a season-best and NCAA automatic qualifying time of 6:25.89. Paced by senior Louis Vayo, senior Dominik Meichtry, senior William Copeland and freshman Martti Aljand, Cal produced the eighth-best 800 free relay time in school history.
"Winning the 200 medley relay was really good to see," said Durden. "I was telling Nort (head coach emeritus Nort Thornton) before the relay started the one I was most confident in was Damir (Dugonjic) our breaststroker. I just knew he was going to have a great split. The other guys also really raised their level."
On Thursday, morning prelims will begin at 11 a.m. and include the 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free and 200 free relay. Finals will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday evening.
1 University of Arizona ARIZ 74 2 Univ of California Berkeley CAL 72 3 Stanford University STAN 66 4 Arizona State University ASU 58 5 University of Southern Calif USC 56 6 University of Washington WASH 28