Nov. 3, 2012
BERKELEY -The theme for the 2012 California Aquatics Gala was Starry Night (Celebrating Past, Present & Future Champions), and the title could not be more fitting, as some of the world's greatest stars in the pool are members of the Golden Bear aquatic family and were in attendance Saturday night (Nov. 3) for the festivities at the University Club in the newly renovated California Memorial Stadium.
The Starry Night dinner was part of the 2012 Cal Aquatics Gala Weekend that celebrates the legacy of Cal Aquatics. The night's program included such highlights as women's water polo coach Richard Corso discussing the history of Cal aquatics, which began in 1913 with a fresh water pool in Strawberry Canyon; men's water polo coach Kirk Everist talking about the legendary Pete Cutino, who won eight NCAA men's water polo titles from 1973-88 and was instrumental in the development of Cal Aquatics; men's swimming and diving coach David Durden discussing the Bears' recent success, which includes back-to-back national titles for both the men's and women's programs; and women's swimming and diving coach Teri McKeever, who talked about the extremely bright future of Cal Aquatics.
Indeed, the success of Cal in the pool rivals that of any other school in the nation. The Bears' men's water polo program has won more NCAA titles (13) than any other school in the nation. Cal's women's swimming and diving has won the national title three of the last four years and the men's program has captured two straight NCAA crowns. And Corso's women's water polo squad has emerged as a national power, finishing as the NCAA runner-up in 2011. In all, the Cal men's and women's swimming diving programs have won a combined 120 NCAA individual and relay titles.
Additionally, Cal Aquatics has shined in the Olympic arena. At the 2012 London Games, Natalie Coughlin picked up a bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle relay to give her 12 medals for her career - tying the all-time USA record for a woman. Dana Vollmer, with gold medals in the 100-meter butterfly (world record), 400-meter medley relay (world record) and 800-meter freestyle relay, joined Matt Biondi (who earned five gold medals in 1992) and Mary T. Meagher (with three gold medals in 1984) to become the only Bears who each won at least three gold medals in one Olympic Games.
Vollmer and fellow swimmer Nathan Adrian, who won gold in the 100-meter freestyle and 400-meter medley relay, also became the eighth and ninth Cal athletes to receive multiple Olympic gold medals in one year.
In 2012 Olympic water polo, Bear alumnae Heather Petri and Elsie Windes led Team USA to gold, with Petri capturing her fourth Olympic medal as the senior member of the national team, while Cal sophomore Aleksa Saponjic helped power his Serbian squad to a bronze medal in London.
In all, Golden Bears have now won 89 Olympic medals since the 1920 Antwerp Games - even further proof of the excellence that permeates Cal Aquatics.