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Christian Corona | Associated Press | March 30, 2014

California claims third national title in past four years

  The national title marks the Golden Bears' fifth overall.

AUSTIN, TEXAS -- California coach David Durden was confident his team would end up on top Saturday night, even though the Golden Bears trailed going into the last day of the NCAA men's swimming championships.

He was right.

Six points behind Texas entering the day, Cal regained the lead in the first event Saturday and extended it after nearly every event to win its third national title in four years.

"I felt if we were within 20, we were going to be in good shape," Durden said. "We were going to be in good shape within six. That felt good. We felt like we just had to outscore Texas in every swimming event today."

Michigan's Connor Jaeger successfully defended his title in the 1,650-yard freestyle in 14 minutes, 29.27 seconds, and the Golden Bears' Jeremy Bagshaw was second to push Cal back ahead of the Longhorns by 11 points.

"I would have never thought we would've won this championship based on the performance of a Cal miler," Durden said. "Jeremy Bagshaw set the tone going 14:39 and our guys followed suit."

In the next event, freshman Ryan Murphy, who already contributed to four other victories this week, posted a time of 1:37.55 in the 200 backstroke, setting a NCAA championships record and giving Cal a 15-point lead.

"It's been one of the best meets of my life," said Murphy, who helped the Golden Bears win their fifth national title in program history. "I've never been an emotional swimmer, but this meet, in order to be successful, you have to swim with a lot of emotion."

As they did the last time they hosted the championships in 2003, the Longhorns finished second with 417.5 points - 51 behind the champion Golden Bears. Florida (387 points) was third, with defending champ Michigan (310) and Georgia (259) rounding out the top five.

"It was (Cal) more than us," Texas coach Eddie Reese said. "We very much surpassed what it looked like we could do individually and it takes a lot of individuals to make up a good team score. That's what they did. We had a great meet."

Louisville's Joao De Lucca won the 100 freestyle in 41.70, becoming the first to sweep the 100 and 200 freestyle events at the championships since Michigan's Gustavo Borges accomplished the feat in 1995.

American records fell in the next two events, Arizona's Kevin Cordes won the 200 breaststroke in 1:48.66, breaking the record he set last year by 0.02 seconds. Michigan's Dylan Bosch then set an American record in the 200 butterfly at 1:39.33.

After Duke's Nick McCrory became the first to win four platform diving national titles, posting a score of 454.85, Auburn won the meet's final event, finishing the 400 freestyle relay in 2:48.33.

Cal finished second in the event, a little more than a second behind the Tigers, but came out on top in what mattered most. It was fitting, considering the Golden Bears finished second in the event that propelled them to the title (1,650 freestyle) and were in second place going into the meet's final day.

But, when it mattered most, Cal was second to none.

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