By David Seawright on April 21, 2011 9:01 AM
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.
By David Seawright on April 13, 2011 9:22 AM
Last night the International House on the east side of the Berkeley campus was overtaken by Cal athletes past and present adorned in their zebra-striped varsity sweaters. The Big C Society hosted the banquet in honor of this year's graduating seniors.
This particular class of athletes, according to athletic director Sandy Barbour, delivered eight national titles for the Bears, 46 more individual titles and countless Pac-10, MPSF and Nor-Pac crowns as well.
"You were part of arguably the most successful era in Cal sports history," said Barbour from the lectern. "Our primary message to you is one of thanks, as your accomplishments were nothing short of remarkable. We recognize that these achievements came as a result of much sacrifice."
Along with Barbour, pole vaulter Allison Stokke and Nathan Adrian, Cal swimming's resident Olympic gold medalist, addressed the crowd. The special guest speaker was none other than Joe Starkey, who you might recognize as the voice behind this call.
While the banquet was recognizing the finish of an era of Cal athletics, not all of the athletes are done competing for the blue and gold.
"I had five minutes to get dressed after practice today," golfer Pia Halbig said. "We leave for the Pac-10 Championships this weekend."
Even still, there was much to celebrate last night as yet another group of student athletes prepares to graduate from what Barbour described as "the preeminent public university in the nation."
You can see photos from the event below.
Athletes past and present, including these members of the 2011 rugby team, wore their zebra-striped varsity sweaters to the event.
Athletic director Sandy Barbour addressing the banquet just before dinner.
Host Chris Carpenter was a man of many outfits on the night, including this shirt celebrating the reinstatement of Cal baseball.
He also celebrated the achievements of the Cal rugby team.
National champion and Olympic medalist Nathan Adrian served as one of the student speakers on the night.
By David Seawright on April 11, 2011 3:05 PM
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.
By David Seawright on April 6, 2011 9:15 AM
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.
By David Seawright on March 19, 2011 8:13 AM
The week that Cal students have now been dreaming of for weeks has finally arrived - spring break has overtaken Berkeley.
While many of the Bears that are in season will remain on campus for the week, many more will travel around the country for competition and around the world for pleasure.
For example, Lauren Loerch, a freshman outside hitter on the volleyball team, leaves this morning for the Dominican Republic for a service trip.
Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, meanwhile, is taking punter Bryan Anger back to his home land for the week and will be showing the Camarillo, California native around Italy.
And Elly Barrett, a sophomore on the volleyball team, returned home to Austin, Texas where she will be on hand watching the women's swim team look to capture an NCAA Championship this evening. (Cal leads Georgia 295 to 274.5 entering the final day of competition.)
All four of these Cal athletes will be sending us pictures from their different activities, meaning you'll be able to be a part of their spring breaks even if you get no such week off yourself.
As for myself, I am in the nation's capital to start of the week but will be keeping my eyes on the Bears around the country throughout the week. Meaning that while I may not blog quite as much over the next week, plenty of information will be going out to the world via Twitter.
So keep your eyes on the Bear Blog and all of its social media entities throughout the week and we'll be back in full swing when school resumes.
By David Seawright on March 15, 2011 11:25 AM
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.
By David Seawright on March 8, 2011 6:30 AM
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 Bear Blog photographer James Besser, captures Shields underwater during practice.
David Seawright:You were named Pac-10 "Swimmer of the Meet" - did you think that might happen heading into the weekend?
Tom Shields: 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?
TS: 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.
By David Seawright on March 1, 2011 8:53 AM
Tom Shields is the defending national champion in the 100 butterfly. He's also a Cal sophomore. We caught up with him this morning before the Bears left for the Pac-10 Championships in Long Beach, California. Here's what he had to say.
By David Seawright on March 1, 2011 8:33 AM
Right before 7:00 a.m. this morning, the Cal men's swim team began to trickle into their locker room on by Spieker Pool.
While their female counterparts were in the water preparing for the NCAA Championships in a couple weeks, the guys packed their bags and loaded onto a bus to catch a plane headed to Long Beach, California.
By 7:20, the Bears were en route down Bancroft Way and will not return until Sunday night - hopefully with a Pac-10 Championship in hand.
The Bear Blog, including photographer James Besser, was there with the team all morning, so here are those pictures.
By David Seawright on March 1, 2011 7:41 AM
We woke up bright and early to see the Cal men's swimming team embark for the Pac-10 Championships in Long Beach this weekend, and fortunately for you it's all coming your way whether you were up early today or not.
Stick around with the Bear Blog to see photos from the locker room and bus as well an exclusive on-camera interview with one of the Bear's defending national champions.
By David Seawright on February 28, 2011 12:27 PM
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? CL: 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? CL: 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.
By David Seawright on February 25, 2011 10:00 AM
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.
By David Seawright on February 16, 2011 4:30 PM
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.
By David Seawright on February 16, 2011 2:40 PM
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.
By David Seawright on February 15, 2011 1:44 PM
There's always something going on in the world of Cal atheltics, and I'm here to offer you proof. Here are four pictures of what is happening right now at Haas Pavilion taken by my cell phone only moments ago.
The Cal men's basketball team conducts ball drills to open up practice.
The Cal baseball team removes the protective tarp from Evans Diamond following a day of rain in Berkeley.
Women's swimming and diving takes to the land to work out in the Haas weight room.
The men's swimming team finishes its practice, as seen from a third story window of Haas Pavilion overlooking Spieker Pool.