Cal Treks to Atlanta for NCAA Championships
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  03/21/2006

March 21, 2006

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Thurs.-Sat., March 23-25, at the NCAA Championships in Atlanta, Ga.

BERKELEY, Calif. -

Third-ranked California heads to the 83rd annual NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, Wednesday through Friday, March 23-25 in Atlanta, Ga. Georgia Tech is the host of the championships, which will be held at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. The Golden Bears, who have won two NCAA Championships, in the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons, took fourth place at the 2005 NCAA Championships.

Defending NCAA champion and second ranked Auburn, top-ranked Stanford, fourth-ranked USC and fifth-ranked Florida are some of the talented teams that will compete with Cal at the 2006 NCAA Championships.

Cal head coach Nort Thornton and co-head coach Mike Bottom bring 15 swimmers to the championships. That group includes seniors Henrique Barbosa and Milorad Cavic and junior Jonas Tilly, the only members of the current Bears squad that have won NCAA titles. Cavic was a member of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay in 2003 and joined Tilly on the winning 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relays in 2005. Barbosa and Cavic were on the winning 200-yard medley relay last season. Cal also has its five relays (200- and 400-yard medley relays and 200-, 400- and 800-yard freestyle relays) qualified to compete at the NCAA Championships.

None of the Cal divers qualified for the NCAA Championships.

Cal head coach Nort Thornton and co-head coach Mike Bottom bring 15 swimmers to the championships. That group includes seniors Henrique Barbosa and Milorad Cavic and junior Jonas Tilly, the only members of the current Bears squad that have won NCAA titles. Cavic was a member of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay in 2003 and joined Tilly on the winning 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relays in 2005. Barbosa and Cavic were on the winning 200-yard medley relay last season. will provide complete coverage of the Bears at the NCAA Championships. Results can also be found on the Georgia Tech NCAA Championships Web site at

Fifteen Cal swimmers will compete at the 2006 NCAA Championships, with Cal sophomore Joe Whittington serving as an alternate. Here is a look at the 15 Bears in Atlanta:

Henrique Barbosa, Sr., Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil - One of the top breaststrokers in the nation, Barbosa is seeded third in the 100-yard breaststroke (52.90) and seventh in the 200-yard breaststroke (1:55.93) at the NCAA Championships. He also swims the breaststroke leg of Cal's 200- and 400-yard medley relays. Barbosa won the 100 breaststroke at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships with his school-record time of 52.90. Barbosa, who swims internationally for Brazil, is Cal's only returning swimmer who earned All-America honors in individual events at the 2005 NCAA Championships. He was fifth (53.45) in the 100 breaststroke and seventh (1:56.97) in the 200 breaststroke at nationals. Barbosa also earned All-America honors for swimming the breaststroke leg on Cal's winning 200-medley relay (1:25.30).

Milorad Cavic, Sr., Tustin, Calif. - A 2004 Olympian for Serbia & Montenegro and one of the top sprinters in the world, Cavic holds Cal's fastest time and the NCAA Championships' fourth-seeded time of 19.35 in the 50-yard freestyle, the sixth-seeded time of 46.62 in the 100-yard butterfly and the 18th-seeded time in the 100-yard freestyle. He also swims on four of the five Cal relays that will compete in Atlanta: the 200- and 400-medley relays and the 200- and 400-freestyle relays. At the 2006 Pac-10 Championships, he took second place (19.35) in the 50 free. Last year, Cavic swam on three NCAA champion relays: the 200- and 400- free relays and the 200-medley relay. The 200-free relay set NCAA, U.S. Open, pool and school records with its winning time of 1:15.78. He was also an honorable mention All-American for taking ninth place in the 50 free (19.41) and the 100 fly (46.56). At previous NCAA Championships, Cavic took second in the 100 fly (50.81) in 2004 and was the runner-up in the 50 free (19.37) in 2003. He was also a big part of the 2003 400-free relay that set NCAA, U.S. Open and school records by winning in a time of 2:48.99. Most recently at the international level, Cavic took 10th place in both the 50-meter free (24.03) and 100-meter free (53.06) at the 2005 World Championships.

William Copeland, So., Lexington, Va. - Copeland has come on strong in his second year at Cal, posting the team's best time in the 100 free (43.28, 10th seed at NCAAs) and its second-best time in the 50 free (19.59, 9th seed at NCAAs). He also swims on Cal's 200- and 400-free relays. At the Pac-10 Championships, Copeland led off Cal's winning 400-free relay (2:51.27) and swam the second leg on the second-place 200-free relay (1:17.71).

Jernej Godec, So., Ljubljana, Slovenia - A 2004 Olympian for Slovenia, Godec is the only Cal swimmer who has a top-seeded time at the 2006 NCAA Championships. Godec has the top time of 46.32 in the 100-yard butterfly. He also has the 24th-top seeded time (19.82) in the 50-yard freestyle and the 47th-seeded time (44.25) in the 100 free. At the Pac-10 Championships, Godec swam the second leg of Cal's winning 400-free relay (2:51.27) and anchored the second-place 200-free relay (1:17.71).

Mark Eckert, So, Honolulu, Hawaii - Eckert holds Cal's second-best and the NCAA's 11th-seeded time (1:43.89) in the 200-yard backstroke. He also has Cal's second-fastest time and the 26th-seeded time (1:47.38) in the 200-yard individual medley.

Matt Lyon, Sr., Oakland, Calif. - One of four Cal seniors competing at the NCAA Championships, Lyon is seeded 18th in the 50-yard freestyle (19.78) and 37th in the 100-yard freestyle (44.01). Both times are personal bests and rank third and fourth, respectively, among Cal's fastest times of this season.

Graham Lentz, Jr., Petaluma, Calif. - Lentz is seeded 21st in the 100-yard breaststroke (54.16) and 28th in the 200-yard breaststroke (1:59.79). Both times are personal records. His brother, Ian Lentz, is a freshman swimmer for Cal, but the younger Lentz did not qualify for the NCAA Championships.

Daniel Lysaught, Jr., Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia - Lysaught is Cal's top distance swimmer and is seeded ninth in the 1650-yard freestyle (15:03.72) and 12th in the 500-yard freestyle (4:18.31). The Aussie is also seeded 37th in the 200-yard freestyle (1:37.27). He swam his 1650 time when he took second place at the Pac-10 Championships earlier this month. His 500-free time also came in his fourth-place finish at the conference meet.

Dominik Meichtry, So., Rorschacherberg, Switzerland - Meichtry is qualified to compete in three individual events at the NCAA Championships: the 200-yard freestyle (1:34.18, 3rd-seeded time), 500-yard freestyle (4:15.89, 5th seed) and 1650-yard freestyle (15:14.03, 25th seed). He led off Cal's 800-yard freestyle relay that took second place at the Pac-10 Championships in a school-record time of 6:21.02. That time has Cal seeded second in the 800-free relay. The 2004 Swiss Olympian took seventh place in his semifinal of the 200-meter free (1:50.02) in Athens. At the 2005 World Championships, Meichtry was 15th in the 200-meter free (1:49.97).

Miguel Molina, Sr., Tokyo, Japan - Yet another of Cal's internationally experienced athletes, the 2004 Filipino Olympian is qualified to swim in three individual events in Atlanta: the 200-yard individual medley (1:46.11, 13th seed), 400-yard IM (3:49.89, 19th seed) and 200-yard breaststroke (1:59.26, 24th seed). Swimming for the Philippines at the 2005 World Championships, Molina best finish was 21st in the 400-meter IM (4:30.95).

Patrick O'Neil, Jr., Roseburg, Ore. - O'Neil is qualified for three individual events in Atlanta: the 200-yard butterfly (1:45.40, Cal's top time this year, 12th seed), 100-yard butterfly (47.27, 16th seed) and 200-yard individual medley (1:48.10, 32nd seed). At the Pac-10 Championships, he was seventh in both the 100- (47.27) and 200-yard (1:47.00) butterflies.

David Russell, Fr., Wellesley, Mass. - Cal's only freshman at the NCAA Championships, Russell is the Bears' top backstroker . He is qualified for both the 100-yard (46.70, 3rd seed) and 200-yard (1:41.88, 3rd seed) backstrokes in Atlanta. Russell was second in the 100 (47.08) and third in the 200 (1:43.53) backstrokes at the Pac-10 Championships. He led off the 200-yard medley relay that swam a 1:25.44 to win the Pac-10 title and seed Cal first at NCAAs. He also led off Cal's Pac-10 winning 400-yard medley relay (3:08.87, 3rd seed).

Jonas Tilly, Jr., Trelleborg, Sweden - The returning All-American is qualified to swim three individual events at NCAAs: the 50-yard freestyle (19.78, 18th seed), 100-yard free (43.76, 25th seed) and 100-yard butterfly (48.03, 32nd seed). He also swims on three Cal relays that are qualified for Atlanta: anchor for the 400-yard medley relay (3:08.87, 3rd seed), third leg for the 200-yard free relay (1:17.71, 2nd seed) and third leg for the 400-yard free relay (2:51.27, 1st seed). Tilly swam the third legs of Cal's winning 200- and 400-yard free relays and was 12th in the 50 free (19.68) at last year's NCAA Championships.

Louis Vayo, So., Placentia, Calif. - Perhaps Cal's most versatile swimmer, Vayo holds the 17th seed in the 200-yard backstroke (1:44.81, personal record), the 27th seed in the 200-yard individual medley (1:47.61) and the 22nd seed in the 400-yard IM (3:50.69). At last year's NCAAs, Vayo took 19th place in the 200-yard backstroke (1:45.31) and 45th in the 500-yard freestyle (4:30.37). At the 2006 Pac-10 Championships, his best finish was sixth place in the 200-yard back (1:44.81).

Garrett Wagner, So., Loomis, Calif. - Wagner is seeded 12th in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:35.48 and 36th in the 500-yard free (4:24.30) in Atlanta. He swam the second leg of the 800-yard free relay that took second place at Pac-10s in a school-record 6:21.02, which has the Cal relay seeded second in Atlanta. At last year's NCAAs, Wagner earned All-America honors after swimming the third leg of the seventh-place 800-yard freestyle relay and swimming in the preliminary race of the eventual champion 400-yard free relay.

Arguably the strongest relay program in the country, Cal is the only team to be seeded first in more than one of the five relays at the NCAA Championships. The Bears have the top seeds in the 200-yard medley (1:25.44) and 400-yard freestyle relays (2:51.27). Both relays won titles with those times at the Pac-10 Championships. They also won the 400-yard medley relay at this year's Pac-10s. At last year's NCAA Championships, Cal won three relays: the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:15.78), 400-yard freestyle relay (2:47.70) and 200-yard medley relay (1:25.30). The 200- and 400-free relay times set NCAA and U.S. Open records.

Here are the Cal relays that qualified for this year's competition in Atlanta:

200-yard freestyle relay (1:17.71, 2nd seed) - The quartet of senior Milorad Cavic, sophomore William Copeland, junior Jonas Tilly and sophomore Jernej Godec took second place with this time at the Pac-10 Championships.

400-yard freestyle relay (2:51.27, 1st seed) - Copeland, Godec, Tilly and Cavic won the Pac-10 title with this time.

800-yard freestyle relay (6:21.02, 2nd seed) - Sophomore Dominik Meichtry, sophomore Garrett Wagner, sophomore Louis Vayo and senior Miguel Molina took second at Pac-10s with this time.

200-yard medley relay (1:25.44, 1st seed) - Freshman David Russell, senior Henrique Barbosa, Godec and Cavic won the Pac-10 title with this time.

400-yard medley relay (3:08.87, 4th seed) - Russell, Barbosa, Cavic and Tilly won the Pac-10 title with this time.

ESPN2 will broadcast a tape-delayed version of the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships at 1:30 p.m. ET on March 31.

Cal freshman Sam Helvie took ninth place and sophomore teammate Javier Rivas was 10th on the platform final on Feb. 25, the final day of the NCAA Zone E Diving Regional. Neither Golden Bear, nor sophomore teammate Mark Wes, who competed at the regional but not on the platform, qualified for the upcoming NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships via the regional, which qualified eight divers for Atlanta. Helvie scored 517.45 and Rivas scored 511.00 on the platform.

Helvie took eighth place (570.30), Rivas was 15th (507.75) and Wes was 20th (208.70) on the one-meter springboard final at the NCAA Zone E Diving Regional on Feb. 24. In the Feb. 23 three-meter final, Helvie was 14th (528.30), Rivas was 15th (525.50) and Wes was 18th (466.70).

Cal placed fourth at the NCAA Championships - the Bears' 14th top five finish under head coach Nort Thornton - at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center March 23-26 in Minneapolis, Minn. Duje Draganja, the 2005 Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year, concluded a four-year career by winning two individual crowns -100 butterfly and 100 freestyle - and helping the Bears win three relays - 200 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay - at the NCAA meet.

Draganja set a slew of records, including an NCAA, U.S. Open and pool record time of 41.49 in winning the 100-yard freestyle. He set a Cal and pool record of 45.39 in winning the 100 butterfly.

He led off the winning 200-freestlye relay, which included Rolandas Gimbutis, sophomore Jonas Tilly and junior Milorad Cavic swam an NCAA, NCAA meet, U.S. Open, poll and Cal record time of 1:15.78. Draganja also led off the winning 400-freestyle relay, which included Cavic, Tilly and Gimbutis and swam an NCAA, U.S. Open, pool and Cal record time of 2:47.70.

The winning 200-medley relay swam a pool record 1:25.30 and included the foursome of Cavic, Barbosa, Draganja and Gimbutis.

Cal won three relays and senior Henrique Barbosa won the 100-yard breaststroke as the Bears took second place overall at the 2006 Pac-10 Men's Swimming Championships March 1-4 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way, Wash. The Bears scored 796 points to finish as the conference runner-up behind Stanford (880), which won its 25th straight Pac-10 crown.

Barbosa set a new school record with an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 52.90 to win his breaststroke title. He surpassed the record time of 53.31 set by former teammate Caleb Rowe at the 2005 Pac-10 Championships. The product of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, also swam the second leg of the winning 400-medley relay, which included freshman David Russell, senior Milorad Cavic and junior Jonas Tilly and swam a season-best and automatic NCAA qualifying time of 3:08.87.

The Cal quartet of sophomore William Copeland, sophomore Jernej Godec, Tilly and Cavic swam a season-best and automatic NCAA qualifying time of 2:51.27 to win the 400-freestyle relay. That time ranks the 2006 Bears fifth on Cal's all-time 400-free relay list.

The Bears' other victory came in the first race of the conference championships, the 200-medley relay. The Cal foursome of Russell, Barbosa, Godec and Cavic won in an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 1:25.44.

At the Pac-10 Men's Diving Championships Feb. 23-25 in Federal Way, Wash., freshman Sam Helvie had Cal's best finish, taking fourth on the platform with a score of 271.35. Bears sophomore Javier Rivas was seventh (239.05) on the platform. On the one-meter springboard, Rivas had Cal's best finish, taking eighth (271.85). On the three-meter board, Helvie led the way for Cal, with a ninth-place finish (283.15).

Cal's loss at Stanford on Feb. 18 dropped the Bears from the top spot to third in the last College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) national top 25 rankings. Stanford replaced Cal at No. 1. Defending NCAA champion Auburn is ranked No. 2, USC is No. 4 and Florida is No. 5.

The Pac-10 Conference named California freshman Sam Helvie its Pac-10 Diver of the Month for December after the Bakersfield, Calif., product won the platform title on Dec. 3, 2005, at the Texas Invitational in Austin, Texas. Helvie scored 282.85, and became the first Golden Bear diver to win an event at the invitational. This is the first monthly honor for Helvie and Cal's first Diver of the Month all-time.

Helvie also set a school record (375.92) and beat decorated Arizona State All-American Joona Puhakka when the young Bear won the one-meter springboard in the 159-78 dual-meet win over the Sun Devils on Jan. 20 at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Helvie also won the one-meter board (332.92) in a 202-98 dual-meet win over Arizona on Jan. 21 in Berkeley.

California All-American swimmer Miguel Molina won three gold medals - in the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys and the 200-meter breaststroke - and a silver and a bronze at the 23rd South East Asian Games held Nov. 27-Dec. 5 in the Philippines. The 21-year-old Golden Bears senior, who competes internationally for the Philippines, also set Filipino national records in his three victories.

At the SEA Games on Nov. 30, Molina won the 200 IM in a time of 2:03.80, eclipsing his own previous record of 2:04.64 set at the World Championships last summer in Montreal. On Dec. 2, he won the 200 breaststroke in a time of 2:16.88, which also broke a record of 2:18.71 Molina previously set at the 2005 World Championships. Molina swam a 4:26.21 to win the 400 IM on Nov. 29 and break the previous Filipino record of 4:30.31. He also took second in the 200 free (1:52.83) on Dec. 3 and anchored the 400-medley relay to help the Philippines take bronze (3:52.35) on Dec. 3.

Cal swimmer Jonas Tilly was named Pac-10 Men's Swimmer of the Month for October. Tilly, a junior from Trelleborg, Sweden, helped the Golden Bears to a winning start in the 2005-06 season. At a tri-meet with Texas and Florida, Tilly won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.37 and the 100-yard freestyle in an NCAA B standard qualifying time of 44.44. He also anchored four winning relays at the meet in Austin, including the 200-free relay (1:20.36), the 400-free relay (2:59.01), the 200-medley relay (1:30.21) and the 400-medley relay (3:16.94).

Tilly was the only Cal swimmer to win multiple races in the school's win at the Pacific Tiger Invitational in Stockton, Calif. He won the 50-yard freestyle (20.76) and the 100-yard freestyle (45.66).

This is the first monthly honor for Tilly and Cal's first Swimmer of the Month all-time. Tilly was also named the Swimmer of the Week for his performances against Texas and Florida.

Cal men's swimming co-head coach Mike Bottom was named an assistant men's coach to the U.S. team that will compete at the 2006 Short Course World Championships April 5-9 in Shanghai, China. The ninth-year Cal coach was previously a U.S. assistant coach during the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

Bottom is no stranger to the international scene, having coached various U.S. and foreign swimmers to success at the Olympics, World Championships, NCAA Championships and other competitions. He coached U.S. swimmer Gary Hall, Jr., and former Golden Bear Duje Draganja of Croatia to a 1-2 finish in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2004 Athens Olympics and coached Hall and former Golden Bear Anthony Ervin to a tie for the gold medal in the 50 free at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Under Bottom's mentoring, Draganja also won two individual titles (100-yard butterfly and 100 free) and was a member of three winning relays (200- and 400-free relays and the 200-medley relay) at the 2005 NCAA Championships. At the 2002 European Championships, he coached former Bear Gordan Kozulj (Croatia) to the gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke and coached former Bear and current Cal volunteer assistant coach Bart Kizierowski (Poland) to the gold medal in the 50 free.

A former Olympic team member and USC All-American, Bottom was a member of three of the Trojans' NCAA Championship teams from 1975-77. He later coached the USC women to their first NCAA title in 1997.