Cal Has No Answer for Cardinal's Depth





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Undefeated going into the last dual meet of the season, the Cal men's swimming team was just shifting into sixth gear for the home stretch to Pac-10s when it bounced off a monolithic speedbump-Stanford's No. 1 swimming program.

The Bears (6-2, 3-1) fell to the Cardinal, 195.5-104.5, in competition last Saturday at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Complex. The Cardinal won its eighth meet in a row this season to finish 4-0 in the conference and number one in the country.

"As strange as it seems, the meet was very successful for us," Cal head coach Nort Thornton said. "We had 24 season bests and fourteen personal bests. It didn't show in the results, but we swam well."

The Bears won five of the meet's 16 events, led by Olympian Anthony Ervin and junior Nicolas Bartolotta. Ervin racked up two individual wins, beating the Cardinal's Randall Bal in the 100-yard freestyle (43.38) and tying for first with Bal in the 50 (19.46). Ervin's time in the 100 free broke Stanford alumnus Dod Wales's pool record set in 1999.

Ervin's eligibility to compete was in question going into the meet-he and senior Matt Macedo had been filmed for a non-profit video on stroke technique.

"They were cleared," Thornton said. "Apparently (Stanford's) compliance officer called ours. It was checked out, they were all cleared and then reinstated."

Bartolotta led Cal's diving squad in an impressive performance against Stanford, winning both the one-meter and three-meter events (317.92; 331.13).

Sophomore Robbie Quinn lent more weight to the diving take by placing second in the one-meter with 305.02 points.

Cal's only other individual victor was sophomore Alex Lim, who edged out the Cardinal's Bobby O'Bryan by three-hundredths of a second to win the 100 butterfly in a 47.57.

"Stanford had some times in that meet that could be top two or three at NCAAs," Thornton said. "They aren't first for nothing. But you do what you can do and focus on the things you can do something about."

Stanford's strength is that they have no real weaknesses. The team's swimmers are fast, and there's a lot of them.

The Cardinal went one-two in the 200 free, 1,650 free and 200 individual medley, one-two-three in the 100 and 200 backstroke, and swept the top four spots in the 500 free.

It wasn't uncommon for Stanford to place more swimmers than Cal could field in a given event, and its very best athletes ended up breaking eight pool records on Saturday.

"The only team that can really challenge them head to head is Texas," Thornton said. "They're fast and they've got two of the top five divers in the country."

The Bears will face the Cardinal again in two weeks at the Pac-10 Championships held Mar. 7-9 at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach, Calif.

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