By Joseph D'Hippolito
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Arizona set a conference record in the 800-yard freestyle relay in the first night of the Pacific-10 Conference men's swimming championships Wednesday night at Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool.
The Wildcats' team of Nicolas Nilo, Jean Basson, Darian Townsend and Joel Greenshields qualified for the NCAA championship with a time of six minutes, 16.77 seconds, the second-fastest nationally this year.
Nilo, Basson, Townsend and Greenshields broke the conference meet record of 6:18.70 that Arizona established two years ago and the overall Pac-10 mark of 6:17.35 that USC set in 2002.
"Honestly, they all swam better than I expected," Arizona coach Frank Busch said of his 800 relay squad. "It was four guys who wanted to make a statement; I guess that would be the best way to say it."
Stanford finished second with a time of 6:24.14 and Cal took third in 6:25.89. Both squads also qualified for the NCAA championships.
In the 200 medley relay, Cal took control during the second leg and set a school record by defeating Arizona by .46 second.
The squad of David Russell, Damir Dugonjic, Jernej Godec and Joe Whittington won in 1:25.09. Rusell and Godec also swam on the Golden Bears' squad that set the previous record, 1:25.88, last year.
Arizona took second in 1:25.57 and Stanford finished third with a time of 1:25.59 to qualify for the NCAA championships.
Albert Subirats gave the Wildcats a lead of .5 second after the backstroke portion but Dugonjic, Cal's breaststroke specialist, put the Golden Bears ahead by .17 second after the second leg.
"He's an unusual kid," Cal emeritus coach Nort Thornton said. "He's a great kid, to begin with. I wouldn't say he's conventional by any means. He does a lot of things differently but he really seems to have a good feel for what he's doing."
1. University of Arizona, 74
2. Stanford University, 66
3. University of Southern California, 56
4. University of California, Berkeley, 72
5. Arizona State University, 58
6. University of Washington, 28