Divers Carry Men's Swimming Team As Flu Bug Leaves Bears Ailing

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The cold of winter. The wet of the pool. The peak of intense training.

These three things can spell disaster for swimmers, as some members of the Cal men's swimming team found out this past weekend.

The Bears competed in a tri-meet in Los Angeles against two tough adversaries-No. 8 USC, which they defeated, 167-131, and the formidable yet unranked influenza virus.

Going into the meet, Cal coach Nort Thornton had his fingers crossed, hoping the team would stay flu-free. But the Bears still suffered a few casualties.

Senior butterflier Hiro Sakoda was sidelined with a 102-degree fever, and senior freestyler Sean Gruver retired from the meet early after one event.

The Bears also lost some of their sprint strength as senior Matt Macedo rested a shoulder injury back in Berkeley.

"It wasn't pretty but it was a win," Thornton said. "The guys did what they had to do. It wasn't one of those meets where we went lightning fast, but we put points on the board-we beat the flu and USC."

Cal's victory came mostly through the grace of its divers. Sophomore Robbie Quinn won both the one- and three-meter competitions (291.89, 301.05, respectively), while freshmen Nathaniel Dean and Richard Rech swept the second- and third-place spots for the Bears.

The diving windfall gave Cal a 26-point lead going into the swimming phase of competition-a lead the swimmers extended by just five points thanks to tenacious swimming by the Trojans.

"You could see the guys hurting but they sucked it up and got it done," Thornton said. "USC's divers weren't in the best health either-they basically had to put swimmers up on the board and let them fall off."

Individual winners for the Bears included senior Mattias Ohlin in the 100 back (49.13), junior Daniel Kim in the 100 breast (55.53), freshman Duje Draganja in the 50 free (20.25), junior Anthony Ervin in the 100 free (44.10), sophomore Alex Lim in the 200 back (1:45.72) and senior Peter Aronsson in the 200 breast (2:01.51).

Cal also won the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:31.05 (sophomore Jeff Natalizio, Kim, Ohlin and junior Trent Holsman) and the 400 free relay with a time of 2:56.78 (junior Joe Bruckart, Ohlin, Draganja and Ervin).

The Bears have a week off to train and heal before traveling to Stanford's Avery Aquatics Complex Saturday, Feb. 23 for a big match against the No. 1 Cardinal.

"Being in perfect health may not be enough against Stanford," Thornton said. "They're unbelievable."

Competition begins at 1 p.m.


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