By Kevin Noth, SwimInfo Special Correspondent
Photos by Tim Morse
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., March 26. BY capturing this year’s 400 freestyle relay crown, Cal-Berkeley has now taken three of the last four NCAA event titles. But this performance had an exclamation point attached.
The Golden Bears obliterated the entire field in a new U.S. Open and NCAA record time of 2:47.70, breaking the previous mark also set by Cal in 2003 at 2:48.99.
The Cal foursome of Duje Draganja, Milorad Cavic, Jonas Tilly and Rolandas Gimbutis left no doubt about the outcome as three of the team’s swimmers recorded the fastest leg of his respective split.
Draganja, the champion of the 100 free, kick started his team by clocking a 100 split of 41.71 seconds. Cavic put in another scorching split of 41.87 on the second leg and Tilly followed with a 42.32 split. Gimbutis brought the title home for Cal clocking 41.80 on the anchor leg, shattering the previous best mark by 1.29.
Fred Bousquet of Auburn placed the Tigers in second after a leadoff leg of 41.87. Auburn maintained the second position, touching out in 2:50.38. Arizona was .20 behind in third.
Florida took fourth (2:52.07), while host Minnesota and Kentucky finished in a tie for fifth (2:53.70). Northwestern was seventh and Stanford rounded out the championship field in eighth.
Auburn captured its third consecutive team title by tallying 491 points. Stanford held on for second with 414. Arizona took third (388) and Cal-Berkeley fourth (381). Florida scored 284 points to take the fifth position.
Ryan Lochte of Florida was named Swimmer of the Meet after setting U.S. Open and NCAA records in the 200 IM and winning the 200 backstroke. Diver of the meet went to Joona Puhakka of Arizona State who was honored for winning the one and three-meter diving competitions.
Frank Busch of Arizona and Northwestern's Bob Groseth both claimed Swimming Coach of the Meet honors, while Diving Coach of the meet went to Mark Bradshaw Arizona State.