For any of you who have faithfully checked the blog this week only to find no new activity, I'm here to offer my deepest apologies.
If you have been with the Bear Blog
from the beginning, you remember that I am currently in the process of writing an honors thesis on the polarization of the American news media. Having turned in a 42-page rough draft this week (with the final draft due on May 5), well, things have been a bit crazy on my end.
We'll be back with more complete coverage of Cal sports after the holiday weekend. If you are staying in Berkeley, I would suggest you check out the Brutus Hamilton Invitational
, softball's series with rival Stanford
and the first ever Swim With Mike
event at Spieker Pool.
As promised, we are set to announce the winners of last week's caption contest
right here on the Bear Blog
. After much deliberation, our decision has been made.
The following comment, submitted by wevegottheaxe68 was deemed hilarious, but after some in depth investigative journalism, sources have confirmed to us that this particular person is indeed a current student athlete at Cal.
While his entry, "Nathan Adrian doesn't need tiger blood, he needs only Bear Blood to fuel his domination" was thoroughly enjoyable, NCAA compliance does not allow for current offensive lineman Mark Brazinski
to be rewarded the championship prize.
Instead, GoBears91's caption, "To be fair, in the future Cal should be made to swim up hill" will take home the grand prize of $25 to the faculty club here on campus because the absurdity of the caption is equal to the absurdity of the Bears' margin of victory.
The two runner-ups, who will receive an official Cal pennant, were Ken Go Bears, with "The Cal Men's Swim Team BEARly has any competition! Nathan Adrian BLUE past the competition for the GOLD!" and Troy Smith - and I hope this is actually Troy Smith - who delivered some enjoyable dry humor with this: "Either we are really far behind, or this is just embarrassing. Go Bears."
The three winners will be notified by email. Thank you to all who participated. If you didn't win this time around, fear not - plenty more giveaways are still to come on the Bear Blog
Here's your opportunity to contribute to the Bear Blog
and win some free Cal swag - simply leave a comment listing what you think the caption to the photo below should be.
This shot was taken by swimmer Nick Trowbridge
at the NCAA Championships in Minnesota last month. You'll notice that senior Nathan Adrian is completely destroying the competition in the 400 medley relay.
Adrian (freestyle) served as the anchor to a relay team that included Guy Barnea (back), Damir Dugonjic (breast) and Tom Shields (butterfly). While Adrian brought it home, the roar of "roll on you Bears" echoed from the more than 100 alumni and fans present at the meet.
So have at it and be creative. We have three prizes to give out - one for the first place winner and two runners-up awards.
Let the best man or woman win.
In many respects, swimmers are mysterious beings.
At Cal, they live in the bowels of Haas Pavilion down a compact hallway from Spieker Pool. They are some of the most elite and successful athletes on campus, yet many people fail to acknowledge the Olympians that live in our midst.
Put an elite swimmer on land and you will get mixed results - some of the athleticism that is evident in the water translates well outside of the pool, but much of it does not. Swimmers are early to rise - often times their workouts begin before dawn - and definitely early to crash.
These athletes can seem lazy at times. The mystery of tapering, otherwise known as an excuse to never climb a flight of stairs, to sit down as much as possible and avoid physical movement at all costs, is foreign to athletes of other sports.
But after spending an afternoon in the pool with some of the Cal men's swimmers, I came away knowing one thing - these athletes are physical specimens.
Sunday afternoon's workout was barely that for the swimmers. It was an "on your own" light swim in the pool, probably equivalent to a walk-through for the football team. I came ready to work, complete with a tiger-striped speedo. After all, I wanted to do my best to blend in with the team.
As the swimmers swiftly swept through the water without exerting any effort, one lap at a "sprint" pace left me gasping for air. The lifeguard's extra concern was obvious.
Even the most basic elements of swimming were difficult. The flip-turn filled my nostrils with chlorinated water. The butterfly looked more like a dying caterpillar that emerged from his cocoon without wings.
I even put myself through a timed sprint. A 50-free, complete with dive-in and attempted flip turn, came out at about 40 seconds. Want some perspective? Senior Nathan Adrian holds the American record in 20.71 seconds.
So when the men's swim team leaves for the NCAA Championships in Minnesota next week, I'll have a new appreciation for what they do in the water. Their strength, endurance and precision with technique is truly phenomenal. The fact that many of them are the best in the country at what they do makes it all the more impressive.
So while swimmers were mysterious to me before, I now have a more complete understanding of what they go through. If I were them I'd avoid climbing flights of stairs as well. After all, I'm three days removed from this "light" swim and I'm still hurting in places I didn't know existed.
Don't worry, we'll do our part here on the Bear Blog
to make swimming less of a mystery to all of you readers. The good news for you is that reading about the team doesn't leave you completely exhausted.
Can you even tell the difference between Bear Blog writer David Seawright, above, and returning national champion Tom Shields, below? Didn't think so.Photos by Bear Blog photographer James Besser.
At 8:30 this morning, the Cal women's swim team left Berkeley for Austin, Texas and the 2011 NCAA Championships which will begin this Thursday.
The Bears have had a tremendous season so far, upsetting No. 1 Stanford
in a dual meet last month and falling just short
of knocking off the Cardinal for a Pac-10 Championship a few weeks later.
This time around, Cal hopes to come out on top at the NCAA Championships for the second time in three years.
We were out at practice with the Bears on Friday afternoon - as was head football coach Jeff Tedford - and have photos from one of their last workouts before competing for a national title.
Head coach Teri McKeever (left) and assistant Kristen Cunnane talk during practice.
Sophomore Caitlin Leverenz begins her workout in Spieker Pool.The Bears take to the pool for a Friday afternoon practice.Returning national champion in the 50-free Liv Jensen takes a breather on the pool deck.Teri McKeever, who will also be coaching the 2012 Olympic team, works with her swimmers.
Last week we brought you an exclusive interview
with sophomore Tom Shields right before the team left for the Pac-10 Championships in Long Beach.
Since then, all Shields did was score 57 points for the Bears, set an NCAA record and was named the "Swimmer of the Meet" of the championship.
Shields has already fielded an illustrious career at Cal, including an individual NCAA title in the 100 fly last year as a freshman. He was also named the Pac-10 swimmer of the month in January. In just two-and-a-half weeks, the sophomore will look to continue racking in the accolades at the NCAA Championships in Minnesota.
Certainly one of the big showdowns will be with Stanford senior Austin Staab, who won the NCAA title in the 100 fly in 2009 before missing last season due to personal reasons. In their two meetings this year, Staab has topped Shields in the event. The last meeting of 2011 just might field a different result.
The Cal men's swimming team does not fully rest or shave for the Pac-10 Championships. Instead, they wait for NCAAs to ensure that they're swimming their best. Stanford, meanwhile, shaved and fully rested for Pac-10s to uphold their now 30-year streak of winning the conference crown.
So yes, that means that Shields and the Bears finished second last weekend without being fully rested or shaved for the weekend, meaning that they'll be peaking at just the right time.
We caught up with Shields yesterday afternoon to talk about his weekend performance and what he anticipates from himself and his teammates at NCAAs next week. Here's what he had to say.
This photo, taken by David Seawright: You were named Pac-10 "Swimmer of the Meet" - did you think that might happen heading into the weekend?Tom Shields:
Bear Blog photographer James Besser, captures Shields underwater during practice.
Honestly? Yeah. It usually goes to whoever scores the most points, and I knew I would be contending for all the events I'm in. And I know that Nathan [Adrian], who's a very deserving athlete as well - I knew I would beat him in the 100 fly and that would help my cause. I knew it would come down to how Staab did in the 100 free and he came in third so I was like, sweet, I got it.
DS: So 57 points on the weekend, you'll be shaved and rested for NCAAs in two weeks - do you think you'll be able to score a perfect 60?TS:
I mean, I'd love to, but we're adding a lot of swimmers - some guys who have better times than me in some of the races. There are some really good athletes, and this is the big show, so that's the ultimate goal for everyone there - to win every race they're in. So obviously I'm hopeful, I'd love to. DS
: How much of a difference does it really make to be shaved and rested?TS:
I think it's the difference in the 12 one-hundreths between myself and Staab. I think that with a lot more rest, personally, I can be faster. For other guys it makes a huge different - when they're rested it's like they're a different athlete. I know I'll be faster - I dropped almost a full second in the 100 fly at NCAAs last year, so even though that's mathematically impossible this year I'm hoping to drop time in all of my events.DS: So what will the next two weeks look like for you as you rest and taper?TS:
I don't know - listen to the coaches I guess. I'll stay off my feet as much as possible and tone down the social life. Just coming in and focusing every day.
DS: Your team has now fallen to Stanford two times in a row. Your third shot is on the biggest stage there is. Aside from the personal desire to win, what does it mean to have a third shot at Stanford?
I think that winning the last four events last weekend really gave us a confidence boost. We know that we're not shaved and rested but we performed really well. I think we're in a good spot right now - we got our swag back and are swimming well. I think we can win and it's a matter of if we really decide to. This is the one that counts, so we're disappointed that we lost at Pac-10s but this is the one we've been working toward.DS: Realistically, what do you think you can achieve personally and as a team at NCAAs?TS:
As a team, I think we can win. We'll have to do it without divers, but it's a testament to the strength of our swimming program. And personally, the American record in the 200 fly is right there. I'm right there behind Phelps and I think I can get it. Of course I want to win as many events as I can, win as many relays as I'm involved with since I know that we have a great shot at those. I just love winning - I want to go after as many titles as we possibly can individually and as a team.
Caitlin Leverenz at the dual meet against Stanford two weeks ago.
The Cal women's swimming and diving team finished second
at the Pac-10 Championships in Federal Way, Washington this past weekend.
Only weeks after beating Stanford
in a dual meet at Spieker Pool here in Berkeley, the Bears barely fell to the Cardinal this time around. Thankfully, they'll get another shot at their Bay Area rival in two weeks at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas.
Sophomore swimmer Caitlin Leverenz - the 2010 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year and reigning Pac-10 swimmer of the month - took some time out of her busy schedule (she has three midterms this week) to speak to the Bear Blog
about her weekend. Here's what she had to say.David Seawright: How would you grade your performance this weekend?Caitlin Leverenz:
Overall, it was a good weekend - we swam well and had a lot of really good things happen, but we also definitely had some not so great things happen as well. Of course we wanted to win, but it's better to not win Pac-10s and have the extra motivation for NCAAs than lose out at NCAAs and have to wait an entire year for another shot.
DS: You guys lost to Stanford only weeks after beating them in a dual meet. What's that like?
It's tough - of course we loved beating Stanford in the dual meet, but at the end of the day it's not dual meets that matter. We're disappointed we didn't win a Pac-10 title but we're definitely looking forward to another opportunity in a couple weeks. The team is really fired up.
DS: You won your first ever individual Pac-10 title this weekend. What does that mean to you?CL:
It's exciting. It's a big honor to win a Pac-10 title at all, whether it's on a relay or an individual event. But we want more than that, so I'm glad we're not finished.DS: What are your personal goals heading into NCAAs?
First and foremost I want to win a team title, but I also want to win an individual title. Also, some of the relays that I'm on are close to some American and NCAA records so I'd love to get those. Bust mostly it's just to swim faster than I did last weekend.
Fresh off of a dual meet victory over No. 1 Stanford, the Cal women's swimming and diving team has had a strong performance thus far at the Pac-10 Championships in Federal Way, Washington.
Heading into today's competition, numerous impressive individual performances have put the Bears in second place behind the team they beat less than two weeks ago
Liv Jensen further secured her spot in Cal swimming history as the defending national champion swam a school record 21.73 seconds in the 50-free, securing a school record and automatic qualifying position at NCAA's - not to mention an individual Pac-10 championship.
Sophomore Caitlin Leverenz, who has already been named the Pac-10 swimmer of the month this year, placed second in the 200 individual medley and fell just short of breaking the school record held by Cal swimming legend Natalie Coughlin.
With two days worth of competition remaining, the Bears seem poised to make a push for the Pac-10 crown. One thing we know for sure is that if it comes down to the final relay, Cal certainly has the advantage
over that team from Palo Alto.
Earlier this afternoon I gave you an exclusive look at the work the No. 1 Cal swimming and diving team does in the weight room
. That workout was simply a precursor to the work they do in the pool, which immediately followed their afternoon lift.Bear Blog
photographer James Besser
was on hand at Spieker Pool to catch all of the action. Be sure to check out those photos below.
Cal, complete with 12 returning All-American selections, will host No. 2 Stanford at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon for the final dual meet of the 2011 season. This will be your last chance to see the Bears in action before the Pac-10 and NCAA Championships take place away from Berkeley.
A Cal swimmer jumps into the pool at the start of today's workout.Coach Dave Durden (left) waits for his team on the deck of Spieker Pool.Sophomore Tom Shields (left) takes a quick breather during this afternoon's pool workout.
A Cal freestyler works on his stroke in Spieker Pool.
A Cal swimmer is caught mid-turn by photographer James Besser.
Cal athletes get plenty of recognition for the way they perform during competition, yet their work throughout the week generally goes unnoticed. Not any more.As I mentioned earlier
, today I am shadowing the men's swimming and diving team throughout their second workout of the day, which began at 1:00 p.m. in the weight room on the first floor of Haas Pavilion.
I brought along Bear Blog
photographer James Besser
(who also happens to be a rugby all-American) to capture all the action that you can't see anywhere else.
The No. 1 Bears have numerous athletes who have achieved success at the international and NCAA levels. Here's an exclusive look at the work they do to stay on top (with another post from their water workout to come).
Sophomore Tom Shields warms up while coach Dave Durden (above) looks on.
Olympian Nathan Adrian (left) warms up with a teammate in the Haas weight room.
Junior Isaac Howell works out on a slide board.
Sophomore Nick Trowbridge in the middle of a clean-pull lift.
A Cal swimmer elevates off the platform during his lifting regimen.
In case you haven't heard, the No. 1 Cal men's swimming and diving team (4-0 in dual meet action) has had a strong 2011 campaign thus far.
The Bears will play host to No. 2 Stanford in a season-finale dual meet clash at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Fortunately for you, I'll be spending the afternoon with the Bears as they finalize preparations for Saturday's Big Meet.
For immediate updates and pictures as Cal's resident Olympians (like Nathan Adrian
) and national champions (like Tom Shields
, who also happens to be the reigning Pac-10 Swimmer of the Month
) hit the weight room and pool later today, follow the Bear Blog on Twitter
If you're not on Twitter, don't worry. I'll be back here after practice with an exclusive look at the men of Spieker Pool that you won't find anywhere else.