Sept. 16, 2012
BERKELEY -With all its national success in 2011-12, the University of California has again demonstrated academic and athletic excellence can go hand in hand. This year's celebration of the Golden Bears' athletic achievements is slated for Sept. 24-29 during the school's seventh annual National Championship Week.
Last year, Cal's men and women's swimming and diving programs dominated the pool in repeat runs to the NCAA team title. The Bear's men's and women's swimmers also notched a pair of relay titles to help solidify their top standing at the NCAA meet, while Cal's men's gymnastics team featured another national champion on the pommel horse. Overall, Golden Bear student-athletes won 10 individual NCAA crowns in 2011-12 - more individual national titles than any other year in school history.
"In collegiate athletics, a national championship is the ultimate accomplishment and comes as a result of years of hard work, determination and perseverance," said Cal Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. "National Championship Week is our way of publicly recognizing these tremendous achievements and formally offering our congratulations to the student-athletes, coaches and support staff that helped make a dream of national championships become a reality. This is a time for a very special celebration."
Since Cal began formally honoring its national champions in 2006 with a weeklong celebration, the Bears have brought home 47 individual national crowns and 40 national team titles (including relays, crews and tennis doubles titles).
In 2011-12, Cal was simply spectacular at the NCAA swimming and diving championships. At the March 15-17 women's meet in Auburn, Ala., the Bears featured individual titles from Caitlin Leverenz (200 individual medley and 200 breaststroke), Sara Isakovic (100 butterfly), Liv Jensen (50 freestyle) and Cindy Tran (100 backstroke) - and relay crowns in the 200 and 400 medley relays - to gave Cal's women's swimming and diving its third national title in four years. The Bears' Teri McKeever claimed the 2012 NCAA Coach of the Meet award as Cal outscored second-place Georgia, 412.5-366.
The Bears' men's swimming and diving team, led by NCAA Coach of the Meet David Durden, surprised the swimming world by winning its second straight national team title March 23-25 in Federal Way, Wash. Cal topped second place Texas, 535.5 to 491, bolstered by titles in the 200 free and 400 medley relays with NCAA crowns from junior Tom Shields (100 butterfly and 100 backstroke), sophomore Marcin Tarczynski (200 individual medley) and freshman Will Hamilton (200 butterfly).
In addition, juniors Caitlin Leverenz and Tom Shields were tabbed NCAA Swimmers of the Meet for their contributions, both individually and on the relays. Leverenz joined Tran, Jensen and Colleen Fotsch in the national champion 200 medley relay; and teamed-up with Tran, Isakovic and Katherine Raatz on the title-winning 400 medley relay. Shields swam the butterfly leg of the Bears' national champion 400 medley relay with backstroker Mathias Gydesen, breaststroker Nolan Koon and freestyler Tyler Messerschmidt.
Cal's men's swimmers also showcased their bright futures with three freshmen - Messerschmidt, Fabio Gimondi and Seth Stubblefield - and a sophomore Shayne Fleming, producing a national title in the 200 free relay.
The Bears' success in 2011-12 went beyond the pool. On April 21 at the 2012 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships in Norman, Okla. Glen Ishino perpetuated Cal's dominance on the pommel horse apparatus with the school's fourth national title on the pommel horse since 2006 with a score of 15.600. Ishino is coached by Tim McNeill, the former Bear standout who won three straight national pommel horse titles from 2006-08.
A series of events will celebrate Cal's national achievements, culminating in a ceremony honoring the national champion student-athletes and coaches during halftime of the Sept. 29 football game between Arizona State and Cal.
Beginning on Monday, Sept. 24, the 2011-12 National Championship Week Display Case and Highlight Video will be available for viewing on the first floor of Haas Pavilion. The highlight video, featuring the national champion athletes and coaches, will be running continuously on a flat screen television in the national championship display case and will be featured on CalBears.com.
Among the other 2011 NCW events scheduled is a staff appreciation luncheon Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at the Alumni House Toll Room, and a Friday evening celebratory reception hosted by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Mary Catherine Birgeneau at the University House on campus.
Since its first national championship in 1920 when the football team was considered the best in the land, Cal has had at least one national champion in 77 of the past 92 years. There has been one national champion every season since the 1973 Bears won the NCAA men's water polo title, marking 39 straight years of athletic excellence in Berkeley.
Cal has claimed a total of 84 national team titles in 14 different sports, as well as numerous national championships in crew, swimming relays, tennis doubles and track relays. In all, Golden Bear athletes have won 157 individual national titles, beginning in 1922 when John Merchant won the hammer and shot put, and Allen Norris captured the pole vault, at the national track and field championships.
Now among the school's legends, Cal's 2011-12 national champions are all part of the school's rich history, representing the country's best in both the classroom and the athletic arena.
Cal's National Champions 2011-12
2012 Men's Swimming and Diving
2012 Women's Swimming and Diving
Will Hamilton, men's swimming - 200-yard butterfly, 1:40.94
Sara Isakovic, women's swimming - 100-yard butterfly, 51.49
Glen Ishino, men's gymnastics - pommel horse, 15.600
Liv Jensen, women's swimming - 50-yard freestyle, 21.48
Caitlin Leverenz, women's swimming - 200-yard individual medley, 1:51.77; 200-yard breaststroke, 2:04.76
Tom Shields, men's swimming - 100-yard backstroke, 44.86; 100-yard butterfly, 44.76
Marcin Tarczynski, men's swimming - 200-yard individual medley, 1:41.97
Cindy Tran, women's swimming - 100-yard backstroke, 50.31