No. 7 Cal Men's Swimming Travels to Hoosierland Open
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  11/14/2007

Nov. 14, 2007

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Thur.-Sat., Nov. 15-17  Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center, Bloomington, Ind. All Day

The No. 7-ranked California men's swimming team (2-0, 1-0) sends a 12-member squad to this week's Hoosierland Open, Nov. 15-17, at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center in Bloomington, Ind. The Golden Bears, who this season have a 133-116 dual meet victory over Pacific and a 153.50-106.50 dual meet win over Washington, will compete against men's squads from No. 7 Indiana, No. 22 Penn State, Cincinnati and Kenyon. The Bears are coming off an eighth-place finish at the 2007 NCAA Championships and a second-place finish at the 2007 Pac-10 Meet. Cal features eight returning All-Americans, including Dominik Meichtry, the 2007 Pac-10 champion and national runner-up in the 200 freestyle. The Bears also welcome 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.

Noting The Hoosierland Open

The Bears will be sending two seniors (Michael Jafari, Eric Dunipace), two juniors (Ian Lentz, Dash Rothberg), a sophomore (Troy Nissen) and seven freshman (Sree Akkineni, Alex Cushing, Nick Ferrif, Kameron Flores-Maxfield, Andrew Godbe, Jimmy Henson, Daniel Smith) to the Hoosierland Open. The competition will be ran in NCAA Championship format, following the national championship order of events. So far this year, Nissen has the team's second-best time in the 200 breast (2:06.62), while Lentz has the squad's third-best mark in the 200 fly (1:53.14) and Jafari swan the anchor leg of Cal's top 800 free relay team (6:58.24 at the TYR Pacific Invitational). Last season, Cal defeated Indiana, 202-157, in a Nov. 4 dual meet in Austin, Texas. The Hoosier are 2-2 in dual meets this year, topping Missour and Northwestern, and falling to top-ranked Texas and No. 5 Michigan. Kenyon College is a Division III powerhouse, having won 28 consecutive national titles, while Penn State is 2-1 in dual meets in 2007-08.

Bears Last Compete at Stanford Triple-Distance Meet

Cal's last competition was Nov. 7 against No. 3-ranked Stanford at the non-counting Stanford "Triple-Distance" meet. The meet was unofficial and did not count towards either team's dual-meet record. Bear swimmers won four events, led by senior Jernej Godec. Godec, from Ljubljana, Slovenia, captured the 50-yard butterfly in a time off 22.15, and tying the Cardinal's Austin Staab the 100 fly with a time of 49.53. Meichtry placed first in the 500 free (4:37.13), and both Godec and Meichtry were members of Cal's 400 free relay that won with a time of 3:01.38. Senior William Copeland led-off the 400 free relay with a time of 45.40, senior Joe Whittington swam the second leg (45.31), Godec the third leg (45.05) and Meichtry swam the anchor leg (45.62). In diving, junior Sam Helvie placed second in the one-meter competition (315.30), and freshman Taylor Dehn was third in the three-meter competition (312.30). So far this season, Meichtry has won seven individual races and has been involved in two victorious relays, while Godec has won four individual events and has been a part of three winning relays.

Cal's All-American Line-Up

Cal's returning All-Americans from last season include Meichtry (free), Mark Eckert (backstroke/Individual medley), Richard Hunter (breaststroke), Copeland (sprint free), Godec (free/fly/back), Whittington (free), Louis Vayo (back/IM/free), and 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 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 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 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. 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 Championships.

Introducing David Durden

Durden was hired to direct Cal's men's swimming program on Aug. 27, replacing 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 (2-2 in Pac-10). With Cal's eighth-place finish at the 2007 NCAA meet, it was the 28th time in Thornton's 33-year career the Bears were in the top 10 at the national meet. Of 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 with a school-record 1:42.98. The Bears placed second at the 2007 Pac-10 meet, led by Meichtry, Russell and O'Neil. Meichtry captured the 200 free (1:33.82), Russell won the 100 back (46.93) and O'Neil won the 200 fly (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.