At a world-class university with world-class student-athletes, it is only natural that we find Golden Bears from all around the globe. Today, CGB features Damir Dugonjič, who will be representing his home country of Slovenia this summer in the Olympic Games in London. An Olympic veteran, he represented Slovenia in the 2008 Games in Beijing and saw great success in his years at Cal. As his athlete's profile shows, Dugonjič helped the Bears dominate their competition both within the conference and at the NCAA championships:
• Was sixth in the 100 breast (57.47) and 10th in the 50 breast (26.64) at the 2009 European Short Course Championships
• Placed 10th in the 100 breast (59.66) at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome
• Competed for Slovenia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, placing 16th (1:00.92) in the 100 breast
• Placed second in the 50 breast at the 2006 European Junior Championships
• Was the 2010 NCAA champion in the 100 breast
• Member of 2010 NCAA champion 200 medley and 400 medley relays (breaststroke leg)
• 2010 Pac-10 champion in the 100 breast
• Member of 2010 Pac-10 champion 200 medley and 400 medley relays
• Was the 2009 NCAA champion in the 100 breast (NCAA record, American record 50.86)
• 2009 Pac-10 champion in the 100 breast
• Member of 2009 Pac-10 champion 200 and 400 medley relays
• Cal school record-holder in the 100 breast (50.86), and fifth-best all-time mark in the 200 breast (1:54.07)
• On Cal school record-holding 200 medley (1:22.50, breaststroke leg) and 400 medley relays (3:01.69, breaststroke leg)
• Pac-10 record-holder in 100 breast and on Pac-10 record 200 and 400 medley relays
A team player, Dugonjič makes sure to acknowledge his coaches, David Durden and Nort Thornton, in helping him hit a 50.9 for the 100m breast stroke, and says, "I'm really proud of our guys," but perhaps the best part of this video is his mission for the meet: "That was our main focus...to swim really fast."
Find out more about Dugonjič after the jump!
The follow-up query, then, is: What does swimming "really fast" look like? Perhaps something like this, when Dugonjič captured the Pac-10 title in the 100 breast (51.88) for the third year in a row in March 2011:
After Dugonjič swam the 100m breast in 50.86, the fastest in history, in 2009, Swimming World interviewed him about his experiences after arriving at Cal:
Although he didn't originally plan to leave Slovenia, a friend convinced him to look at Cal's swimming program, so he decided to attend Cal his senior year in high school. Even then, he assured his friends and family that he'd return after a month. Well, that certainly changed when he realized that attending Cal was "one of my best choices." His coach in Slovenia first inspired him to try the breaststroke, noting how rare it is to have such a tall breaststroker, and Dugonjič continued to show significant growth with the coaches and team at Cal, noting, "It's way easier to practice with a team, and it's way more fun."
That fun with his teammates translated to NCAA medley championships and further glory, both at Cal and when representing Slovenia. This past year has been full of glad tidings for Dugonjič; in addition to winning the 2012 European Long Course Championship (50m Breaststroke), he is also newly wed to fellow Golden Bear Camilla Salem, the director of the women's quarterly The Violet.
Let Dugonjič know you're rooting for him on his Twitter or Facebook page. GO BEARS!