Oct. 7, 2003
The 2003-04 California men's swimming team, which finished last year as the No.3-ranked team in the nation, opens this season at Pacific Friday, Oct. 10 in Stockton, Calif. at 1 p.m. This year's squad features seven returning All-Americans including seniors Alex Lim and Jeff Natalizio, junior Duje Draganja-the NCAA 100 freestyle champion and member of Cal's NCAA champion 400 free relay-junior John Dorr and sophomores Milorad Cavic, (another member of Cal's NCAA champion 400 free relay), Matt Lyon and Miguel Molina.
EXPERIENCED RETURNEES AND TALENTED NEWCOMERS IN '03-04
Cal will miss the experience and leadership of graduated seniors Joe Bruckart, Quentin Byma and Olympic gold medallist Anthony Ervin. However, this year's crop of returnees, along with 10 talented newcomers, are capable of continuing Cal's stature as one of the nation's elite teams. Seniors Alex Lim and Keith Vogelgesang are the 2003-04 team captains. Lim, an NCAA finalist in the 100 and 200 back and 100 fly last season, owns Cal's school records in both backstroke events. Other seniors on this season's team include Jeff Natalizio and Steve Rehrmann. Natalizio was an NCAA Championships qualifier. Juniors Duje Draganja, the NCAA 100 free champion, John Dorr, Brooks Jenkins, Caleb Rowe and Matt Schmelzer also return. Dorr and Rowe were also NCAA qualifiers last season. The Bears return a solid group of sophomores in Ricky Barbosa, Milorad Cavic, Chris Gibson, Evan Lane, Ryan Lean, Matt Lyon and Miguel Molina. Barbosa, Cavic, Lyon and Molina were NCAA qualifiers in their debut season, and Cavic etched his name into the school record book with Cal's fastest time ever in the 100 fly (46.10). Four of the 10 newcomers on this season's team hail from another country. Sprint freestylers in freshmen Rolandas Gimbutis (Lithuania) and Jonas Tilly (Sweden), and senior transfer Renato Gueraldi (Brazil), add depth to Cal's already strong sprint corps. Last year, Gueraldi held the fourth-fastest time in the country in the 50 free (19.41). Daniel Lysaught (Australia) will bolster Cal's distance free events. Blake Dickson (free), Eric Dunipace (free/back), Paul Hernandez (breast), Alexander Holdridge (fly/IM/free), Graham Lentz (breast) and Patrick O'Neil (fly) round out the newcomers.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Cal has a 60-6 dual meet record versus Pacific. The Bears defeated the Tigers, 163-91, last October in Cal's first meet of the season. In 2003, Pacific claimed its second consecutive Big West conference championship. The Tigers took first place in 13 of the 21 events, winning four of the five relay events. Pacific is piloted by Danny May, who enters his second season as the Tigers' head coach.
Winning two titles (100 free/400 free relay) at the 2003 NCAA Championships, Cal finished fourth at the meet with 329 points. Duje Draganja (42.02) just edged runner-up and teammate Anthony Ervin (42.11) for the 100 free title. Ervin was a three-time NCAA champion in that event. The men's 400 free relay of Draganja, Milorad Cavic, Joe Bruckart and Anthony Ervin, posted the fastest time in Cal's history at 2:48.99. That time also set new NCAA and U.S. Open records. In all, last season's Golden Bears broke five school records (including the 400 free relay). The other four records included Alex Lim's mark in the 200 back (1:42.70), Cavic's 100 fly record (46.10), Bruckart's 200 IM record (1:44.30) and a new 400 medley relay record (Lim, Quentin Byma, Cavic, Ervin-3:08.68). At the Pac-10 Championships, Cal finished second (730.5 points) for the second consecutive year. Ervin and Bruckart completed their final Pac-10 seasons in style, each garnering two Pac-10 titles. Ervin proved to be the conference's top sprinter with championship victories in the 50 (19.28) and 100 (42.62) free, while Bruckart won the 200 IM (1:44.49). His victory in the 200 free (1:34.46) was the second-fastest time swam in that event in Cal history. Cavic also won an individual championship title, setting a new Pac-10 Championships record in the 100 fly (46.32). Ervin, Bruckart and Cavic, along with Draganja and freshman Matt Lyon also helped Cal to Pac-10 titles in the 200 (1:17.92) and 400 free relays (2:51.43). In the regular season, Cal nearly recorded a perfect dual meet record, until a 173-122 loss in its final meet against Stanford on Feb. 22. The 2002-03 squad finished 6-1 overall, 3-1 Pac-10.
CAL SWIMMERS AMONG NATION'S BEST LAST SEASON
Several returnees from the 2002-03 Golden Bears' squad were splashed on the 2003 College Quick 50-the top 50 times in the nation for each event. Additionally, Cal's 400 free relay was first in the country with a time of 2:48.99, while its 200 free relay was No. 3 (1:17.31), 800 free relay was No. 8 (6:26.30), 200 medley relay was No. 5 (1:26.10) and 400 medley relay was No. 4 (3:08.68). The following swimmers were listed on the final compilation of last season's times. Milorad Cavic-50 free (3rd, 19.37), 100 free (13th, 43.28), 100 fly (3rd, 46.10), 200 fly (46th, 1:47.68); Duje Draganja-50 free (22nd, 19.80), 100 free (1st, 42.02), 100 fly (4th, 46.40); Alex Lim-100 back (3rd, 46.41), 200 back (8th, 1:42.70); 100 fly (8th, 46.76); Jeff Natalizio-100 back (35th, 48.43), 200 back (15th, 1:44.16), 200 IM (19th, 1:47.18); John Dorr-500 free (35th, 4:22.89), 400 IM (23rd, 3:49.78); Miguel Molina-200 free (39th, 1:37.20), 400 IM (22nd, 3:49.77); Caleb Rowe-100 breast (27th, 55.13), 200 breast (21st, 1:58.06); Ricky Barbosa-100 breast (28th, 54.50); Ryan Lean-1650 free (42nd, 15:24.15).
HEAD COACH Nort Thornton
Nort Thornton, who was inducted into the CSCAA (Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America) Hall of Fame last August, enters his 30th season as the skipper of the Cal men's swimming team. Thornton, the dean of Pac-10 swimming coaches, sports a career duel meet record of 206-80 (.720). The 2003 Cal squad finished fourth at the NCAA Championships. Thornton led Cal to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1979 and 1980, and his teams have finished in the Top 10 nationally 24 of the 29 years he has directed the Bears.