When it comes to the men's Pac-10 Conference Swimming and Diving Championships, the odds are in favor of Stanford coach Skip Kenney. In his 32nd year of guiding the Cardinal, Kenney has won 29 straight conference meet titles. He'll go for No. 30 this week when Stanford seeks to extend the longest streak in Pac-10 history at the Belmont Olympic Plaza Pool in Long Beach.
The Cardinal, ranked No. 2 nationally before upsetting No. 1 Cal in the Big Splash a week ago, heads into the conference meet with athletes who scored in 44 individual swims. Stanford also returns the bulk of its relay swimmers and has four divers who already have scored in nine places, which will be added to the team's swim totals during the meet.
Thus, Stanford already is off to a solid start toward adding to its legendary legacy in the sport.
The Cardinal will be led by three returning champions -- juniors Bobby Bollier (200 fly and 400 IM) and Chad La Tourette (1,650 free) plus senior David Mosko (500 free). None of the three are close to the times they swam at last season's Pac-10 meet, but all three should drop plenty of time -- generally the case for most swimmers in this meet.
La Tourette, a two-time champ in the 1,650 free, comes in ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 and No.3 in the nation in the mile (14:47.06). He holds the school record of 14:33.55. He'll represent the USA at the 2011 FINA World Championships this summer.
Bollier is ranked No. 9 nationally in the 200 fly (1:43.77), an event in which he also holds the school record of 1:41.54. He's a three-time Pac-10 champ and seven-time All-American. Mosko isn't ranked in the 500 free, which is won in 4:14.53 last season before lowering that to 4:13.92 at the NCAA meet to rank No. 2 in school history.
Senior John Criste is another school recordholder, in the 100 breast (51.75), who'll be counted on for big points in both breaststroke events -- along with junior Curtis Lovelace. The two tied for second in the 200 breast last season, just .03 seconds out of first. Criste currently ranks No. 11 nationally in the 100 breast in 53.37 while Lovelace was second in the 100 breast at last year's meet.
One swimmer who was not with the team last season, Austin Staab, could make a huge impact on Stanford's chances to repeat. Staab is the school recordholder in the 100 fly (44.l8) and will help replace the graduated Eugene Godsoe and David Dunford on the relays. Dunford and Godsoe each swam on three relays last season, none of which finished lower than second. The Cardinal ranks third in the conference in both the 200 free and 400 free relays.
Staab won Pac-10 titles in the 100 fly in 2008 and '09 before taking 2010 off.
Stanford also has senior Alex Colville, who holds 12 All-American honors and has been on three Pac-10 winning relay teams. He ranks No. 10 in the nation in the 50 free (19.60). Kenney also has sophomore Aaron Wayne, sophomore Matt Thompson (No. 11 nationally in the 200 back) and sophomore Matt Swanston (No. 15 in the 200 back).
The diving competition was held last weekend at the women's Pac-10 finals in Federal Way, Wash. Stanford senior captain Brent Eichenseer and freshman Dhruv Tyagi reached finals of all three events. Eichenseer finished as high as third in the platform, Tyagi was fifth in the platform and one-meter.
Kenney, meanwhile, is looking to extend the longest streak in Pac-10 history by winning his 30th-straight Pac-10 title this week. Since taking over the program, he has been named Pac-10 Coach of the Year 21 times.
Stanford entered the final day of last year's meet trailing Cal by 10 points, but had 20 scoring swims (including a second in the 400 free relay) to overtake the Bears by 68 points.
Cal should be Stanford's main competition again with senior sprinter Nathan Adrian, the defending champion in the 50 and 100 freestyles, plus sophomore Tom Shields, the reigning Pac-10 and NCAA champ in the 100 fly.