Swim Teams Share Pool, Goals in Opening Meet

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You know the roommate phenomenon, right?

A few of your friends move in together, and within a few months, they tell the same inside jokes, eat the same weird foods and use the same obscenities.

The Cal men's and women's swimming teams seem to mirror each other in almost the same eerie way, except with better results.

They're both successful (sixth and eighth, respectively, at last year's NCAA Championships), led by world-class stars (Anthony Ervin and Natalie Coughlin among others) and open their fall seasons by taking on Pacific in a joint meet at Spieker Aquatics Complex tomorrow.

It shouldn't be too surprising that their respective coaches have similar things to say about the meet.

"It'll give us a chance to see where we are training-wise, and help us familiarize our freshmen with the atmosphere and structure of a college meet," women's coach Teri McKeever said.

The Cal men have similar goals.

"The priority is to figure out what we've got, see how our freshmen perform in competition," coach Nort Thornton said. "We're nowhere near ready to swim our best, but this will give us a chance to find out where we're at."

Freshmen will be particularly critical to the men's success, with a 12-man recruiting class.

Thornton said he is less concerned with his veterans, who know how to get themselves ready.

With their fall season geared towards the Texas Invitational in early December, the Cal men are not stressing results this early, in a meet Thornton called "glorified training."

Ervin will swim the 200 yards instead of his usual sprint events.

"It's not an event that I've explored too much, so I'm not expecting too much," senior Ervin said. "I've been training real hard trying to put together the building blocks of something special, and this is more training."

The women's squad is more experienced than it's been in recent years, even with seven freshmen expected to play a big part.

Team superstar Coughlin heads a group of four returning All-Americans, while McKeever expects senior Stacianna Stitts to make an even bigger impact.

While McKeever expects to get good competition from a Tigers team that won the Big West title last year and placed 15th at the NCAAs, Thornton said the Pacific men's squad could be at less than full strength.

"A lot of their guys play water polo, so they could be pretty depleted," Thornton said.

Cal is also missing key performers on both sides. Flora Kong, Alex Lim and Miguel Molina and are all competing at this weekend's Asian Games in Korea.

Competition begins at noon.


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