Feb. 14, 2008
BERKELEY, CALIF. -
Fri., Feb. 23 at Stanford Avery Aquatics Center, Stanford, Calif. 1 p.m.
The No. 11-ranked California men's swimming and diving team (5-1, 3-1) competes in its last dual meet of the season when it travels to No. 3-ranked and Bay Area rival Stanford, Friday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. at Avery Aquatic Center. The Golden Bears look to upend the Cardinal for the second year in a row at Stanford, winning, 129-114, on Feb. 19, 2005, while also producing more 2008 NCAA automatic qualifying times. So far this season, Cal has three automatic qualifying times - junior David Russell in the 100 (46.56) and 200 back (1:42.58), and freshman Damir Dugonjic in the 100 breast (53.46) - and have 14 other NCAA B qualifying marks, including all relays. The Bears have also been paced by junior diver Sam Helvie, who was named the Pac-10 January Diver of the Month with victories in the one-meter competition against both Arizona and Arizona State. On Feb. 7-8, Helvie won the one-meter competition at CS Bakersfield, and both the one-meter and three-meter boards at USC. Cal is coming off an eighth-place finish at the 2007 NCAA Championships and a second-place finish at the 2007 Pac-10 Meet. The Bears have nine returning All-Americans, including senior Dominik Meichtry, the 2007 Pac-10 champion and NCAA runner-up in the 200 freestyle, and Russell, the 2007 Pac-10 champion in the 100 back. 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.
Cal Versus Stanford
On Nov. 7 of this season, Cal swim against the Cardinal in a non-counting Stanford "Triple-Distance" competition. Senior Jernej Godec was the Bears' top performer, capturing the 50-yard butterfly, and tying the Cardinal's Austin Staab the 100 fly. Meichtry placed first in the 500 free, and both Godec and Meichtry were members of Cal's victorious 400 free relay. Senior William Copeland led-off the 400 free relay, senior Joe Whittington swam the second leg, Godec the third leg and Meichtry swam the anchor leg. There should be great competition on Feb. 23 as the Bears feature Russell, who has the nation's second-best time this season in the 100 back (46.56) and third-fastest time in the 200 back (1:42.58), and Dugonjic, who has the nation's second-fastest time in the 100 breast (53.46). Stanford counters with freshman Staab, who has the nation's second-fastest time in the 100 fly (46.37), and junior Nate Cass with the second-fastest time in the 200 breast (1:56.86). Cass will be competing against Cal sophomore Sean Mahoney, who owns the nation's sixth-best mark in the 200 breast (1:57.62). In relays, Cal has the nation's third-fastest times in both the 200 medley (1:27.27, Russell, Dugonjic, Godec, Whittington) and 400 medley (3:11.75, Russell, Dugonjic, Godec, Copeland) relays, while Stanford has the nation's sixth-fastest times in the medley relays (1:28.34 and 3:13.15).
Bears' 2008 NCAA Qualifiers
Besides automatic qualiflyers Russell and Dugonjic, the Bears have several NCAA B standard times as well. Cal's top three sprint freestyles in the 50 and 100 free (Godec, Whittington, Copeland) own B standard times. Godec has a B standard time in the 100 fly (47.72); senior Mark Eckert has B standard times in the 100 back (48.71), 200 back (1:45.41) and 200 IM (1:48.18); senior Louis Vayo has B standard times in the 200 IM (1:49.13) and 400 IM (3:54.56); while Mahoney has B standard times in the 100 breast (54.95) and 200 breast (1:57.62). Additionally, the Bears have NCAA B standard times in all their relays - 200 medley (1:27.27 Russell, Dugonjic, Godec, Whittington), 400 medley (3:11.80 Russell, Dugonjic, Godec, Copeland), 200 free (1:20.15 Copeland, Godec, Whittington, freshman Graeme Moore), 400 free (2:55.49 Whittington, Copeland, Godec, Moore) and 800 free (6:37.39 Vayo, Copeland, sophomore Aaron Casey, freshman Martti Aljand).
Cal's All-American Line-up
Cal's returning All-Americans from last season include Meichtry (free), Eckert (backstroke/Individual medley), Richard Hunter (breaststroke), Copeland (sprint free), Godec (free/fly/back), Whittington (free), Vayo (back/IM/free), and 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.
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 - Head Coach Emeritus
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. His Bears have won 48 individual and relay NCAA championships and 108 Pac-10 individual and relay titles. Thornton's 1979-80 and 1980-81 teams also captured Pac-10 team championships.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 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.