Nov. 9, 2010
STANFORD, Calif.-- Stanford and California swimming will meet for the first time this season when the Cardinal hosts a tri-distance meet between the two programs on Wednesday starting at 2 p.m.
The tri-distance meet combines totals between: sprinters (50, 100, 200 free), distance swimmers (200, 500, 1000 free), butterflyers (50, 100, 200 butterfly), breaststrokers (50, 100, 200 breaststroke), backstrokers (50, 100, 200 backstroke) and the individual medley (100, 200, 400 IM).
Last year Stanford won two of the six events--Chad La Tourette, currently a junior and one of the world's top long distance swimmers and Eugene Godsoe, who graduated last season as the Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year. Austin Staab (50 fly) and David Mosko (200 fly), both seniors this season, were also individual winners.
At last year's NCAA Championships, Cal was second and Stanford was fourth. The Cardinal won its 29th-straight Pac-10 title to begin the postseason, beating Cal.
--- Season Preview Below ---
All for one, and one for all. No one ever knew that the Three Musketeers could swim. But they sure have must have worn Cardinal.
The 2009-10 season could be categorized as one that combined guts and gusto into a Pac-10 Championship and fourth place national finish.
For a program which has won seven national titles and 29-straight conference titles under head coach Skip Kenney, Kenney believes last year's performance was the guttiest he has seen in his 31 seasons.
The trio of captains-- David Mosko, John Criste and Chad La Tourette, all agree. They have also parlayed that into a "team first" mentality. And with that, the entire team has taken it upon themselves to win a national title in 2011.
"This year we have a ton of leaders spread out around the team, from the sophomore class up through the senior class," said Mosko. "I think with the help of those guys, we have a chance to do something special with the amount of leaders on the team."
In 2010, the Cardinal rose above a four-team dog fight to defend their record Pac-10 title. Then another hurdle emerged, before the national meet ever took place.
Stanford was one of three teams which were stricken with an airborne virus, forcing the NCAAs to be pushed back a day. Though not a full strength, the Cardinal men scraped and clawed its way to a fourth place finish. That experience only made this year's team stronger.
"I was really proud of how the team fought all year," said senior captain David Mosko. "We had a lot of setbacks... We fought through all year and came up with a Pac-10 Championship and held onto our fourth spot at NCAAs, it was pretty tough, but it was good for the team to grow heading into this year."
Mosko earned All-America honors in the 500 and 1650 freestyle, as well as the 200 butterfly. Mosko was fourth in both the 500 free and 200 fly, but expects more from himself heading into his senior season.
"Usually one of them hasn't been what I wanted and this year I want all three in the top-five," said Mosko.
Criste was eighth in the 100 breast and also made the B Finals of the 200-yard event. He is a seven-time All-American. He too believes that last year brought the team together, leading to a much closer knit group this year.
"I felt like as a team we brought together and put forth the best performances out there that we could (at NCAAs)," said Criste. "We have a completely different mentality going into this season. We've been able to get our freshmen as well as our upperclassmen on the same page and it's definitely something we have going for us this year."
The third captain is one of the top distance swimmers for Team USA, junior Chad La Tourette. He is the defending NCAA and Pac-10 Champion in the 1650 freestyle. He parlayed that into runner-up finishes at the Pan-Pacific Championships in both the 500 and 1650 freestyle.
La Tourette agrees with the above assessment, noting that it all begins with practice and the little things early on to build a championship team.
"Those goals I've been shooting for every day in practice. I was happy with them, but those are things I look forward to every day in practice," said La Tourette. "Even though we didn't do as well as we wanted to do in terms of total team ranking, this year we changed a lot of things both in the pool and outside the pool deck to shoot for that national title."
In swimming, a trio does not make a team. This year's team is loaded with talent, featuring 14 All-Americans on its roster and at least one All-American in 12 events.
The front end of the team features 12-time All-American sprinter Alex Coville, Mosko, a 10-time All-All-American and the return of 13-time All-American and NCAA 100 butterfly champion, Austin Staab. Also returning is seven-time All-American Bobby Bollier, the Pac-10 Champion in the 200 fly and 400 IM.
Coville, Aaron Wayne, Jake Allen and Rob Andrews will make up the core of the returning sprinters, with Mosko, La Tourette and Morgan Priestley adding points in the longer distances.
Criste and Lovelace, among the all-time leaders in the breaststroke, were All-Americans in both distances, with Lovelace reaching both A Finals.
The butterfly, with the return of Staab and the addition of Bollier and Mosko, make that event, one of the strongest for the Cardinal. Bollier finished third with a school-record in the 200-yard event last year at NCAAs, Mosko was fourth and Staab won the 100-yard event two years ago.
In diving, according to diving coach Rick Schavone, Brent Eichenseer a former All-American in the platform, along with three others make up a strong core. Eichenseer had to put the diving team on his back the last half of last season after Dwight Dumais was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Eichenseer responded, making the NCAAs out of Zones, before barely missing out on the one-meter top-16 with a 17th place finish.
"Brent is just diving great," said Schavone, who has produced an All-American in 26 of the last 28 years. "He had a great summer. He's in great shape and I think he should be a finalist at NCAAs. Our men's team is very, very strong."
Returning diver Taylor Sishc has the second most experience on the squad, while newcomers Noah Garcia and Druv Tyagi are the top freshmen. Garcia is a state champion national finalist out of Fort Lauderdale, while Tyagi, a senior national qualifier, set 11 pool records in New York.
As for the freshmen swimmers, according to collegeswimming.com, Stanford has three swimmers ranked in its top-35 for the Class of 2014. Singapore's Parker Lam set the national record in the 50 breaststroke at the 2009 FINA World Championships; Illinois' Mitchell Stoehr, a junior national champion in the 200 freestyle and Spokane's Mason Shaw, the junior national champion and record holder in the 400 IM.
"We've worked a lot at being a team and along with that, we expect a great freshman class to step up," said La Tourette. "We say that every year, but this year especially, (the freshmen) have to step up because the other teams are so strong."
As Mosko said, "I'm just another guy on the team, and I expect all of my teammates to perform just as much as the next guy."
That team first mentality has developed through the years under Kenney, as noted by Olympic swimmer Markus Rogan.
"You are too smart to put yourself through the amount of pain you go through," said Rogan. "And yet you alone bear witness to your prime instincts as they shine through and trash your ego by the wayside."
It's not about individual glory, but about the overall effort and determination to succeed. To do so, you need the team. To stand a top the pedestal at the end of the day, there is no better feeling than doing it next to your teammates. Those memories will last for ever.
"It's been a dream of mine since I've been little," said Mosko, reflecting on his career. "There are tons of kids in USA Swimming that dream about coming to Stanford and to be a Stanford Swimmer. It was on the pedestal for me to come here and was an opportunity I could not take for granted. And I've cherished every moment I've had on the TEAM."