March 5, 2010
LONG BEACH, CALIF. - Bolstered by conference titles by junior Damir Dugonjic in the 100 breast (52.12), freshman Tom Shields in the 100 fly (45.75) and the 400 medley relay (3:05.71, Mathias Gydesen, Dugonjic, Shields, Nathan Adrian), the California men's swimming team is leading the 2010 Pac-10 Championships after 14 events Friday at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach.
The Golden Bears have a 570-560 point lead over Bay Area rival Stanford. Cal is trying to snap Stanford's streak of 28 straight conference titles. The last school to win a Pac-10 title other than Stanford was Cal in 1980 and 1981. Saturday's scheduled events include the 1650 free, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly and 400 free relay.
"I am proud of what we did today (Friday)," said Cal coach David Durden, who has led the Bears to back-to-back Pac-10 runner-up finishes. "I'm happy that the team has gotten better after every session. Our swimmers are on the path they have been trained to be on and now we just have to do our best to stay in the moment the rest of the meet."
On Thursday, junior Nathan Adrian successfully defended his 2009 title in the 50 free with a time of 19.20, while sophomore Martin Liivamagi captured his first conference title by winning the 200 IM in a career-best and NCAA automatic qualifying 1:43.73.
Adrian, who was last year's NCAA champion in the 50 free as well, currently has the nation's top time in that event with a mark of 19.08. He was he 2009 Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year after winning the 50, 100 and 200 free at the conference meet. Besides Adrian in the 100 free, Cal returns defending 2009 Pac-10 champion Nolan Koon in the 200 breast. On Wednesday, the Bears had won the 200 medley relay for the third year in a row. The medley relay team of juniors Guy Barnea, Dugonjic, Graeme Moore and Josh Daniels recorded a time of 1:24.85 to lead Cal to victory in the first event of the four-day meet.
The Bears also placed third in the 800 free relay in a school record time of 6:19.79 on Wednesday. The relay team of Adrian, Moore and freshmen standouts Ben Hinshaw and Shields, topped the previous Bear record of 6:20.49 set in 2009.