Card Edges Cal, Continues Pac-10 Reign

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Heading into the Pac-10 Championships, most people figured this would be the Cal men's swimming team's best shot in recent history at snapping Stanford's 29-year reign atop the conference.

The Bears are going to have to wait at least one more year to end that streak.

No. 1 Cal took second at this weekend's Pac-10 Championships at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach, Calif., with 864 points. No. 2 Stanford won the meet for the 30th consecutive year with 911 points, and No. 7 USC took third with 534 points.

The Bears (4-1) did, however, manage to win nine of 18 swimming events on the weekend.

Despite being unshaven and un-rested, sophomore Tom Shields was named Swimmer of the Meet after winning two individual events, the 200-yard butterfly (1:40.31) and the 100 backstroke (45.65), and competing on three winning relays.

Most of the Bears, including Shields, did not shave down, and only a few reduced training in preparation for the meet. The team will fully shave and reduce their training yardage for NCAAs.

"We still had good swims across the board," coach David Durden said. "Our guys should have some great confidence going into the next few weeks."

One of the Bears' championship relays was the 400 freestyle, in which the team of Shields and seniors Nathan Adrian, Graeme Moore and Josh Daniels set a new Pac-10 record with a time of 2:48.16. Cal's 200 medley relay also broke a conference record with its first-place finish at 1:23.92.

However, the Bears struggled in the distance events, and Stanford (7-0) took full advantage. Cardinal junior Chad La Tourette defended his Pac-10 title in the 1650 freestyle (14:38.13), and was just one of four to swim for Stanford in the final heat of eight.

"There are a couple of areas of concern that aren't necessarily our areas of strength," Durden said. "We just need to take advantage in the areas that we are strong."

Stanford also benefitted from a strong performance by its divers, highlighted by qualifiers in the top eight for the platform. The Bears didn't even qualify anyone for the event finals.

Cal did have some impressive individual performances, which bodes well heading into NCAAs. For the third year in a row, senior Damir Dugonjic took the conference title in the 100 breaststroke (51.88), and senior Nathan Adrian won the 50 and 100 freestyles (19.00 and 41.75).

"We had a really great opportunity to swim fast, and I think we took advantage of that," Durden said. "We're just really excited about what's next."

The Bears will compete in the NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, which start on March 24. In 2010, the Bears ended up taking second at the NCAAs, just behind national champion Texas.

"All year long, our expectations, hopes and goals have been geared towards NCAAs," Adrian said. "We're not going to change anything now."


Connor Byrne covers men's swimming. Contact him at [email protected]

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