Both UCSB swim teams went in to the final day of the Big West Championships on Saturday with their sights set on defending their championships. Unfortunately, when the day ended and the meet was over, the men’s and women’s teams both found themselves in second place. The women finished with a total of 852 points, just 12 behind winner UC Davis, while the men ended with 896.5 points, 62 points behind UC Davis, who had a record-setting 958.5 points.
“Davis was swimming brilliantly,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “Their coaches were shocked and so were we. In order to win this meet, we needed everyone to go beyond their best in all three of their events. We didn’t have that.”
Coming off a dominating performance on Friday, the women were in first place and the men in second with the final day still looming ahead. However, the day did not start well for the Gauchos. The women were without one of their best swimmers, senior Anne Marie May, who suffered a rib injury in a prior race, forcing coach Wilson to pull her from the final two days of the meet.
The women saw their lead quickly diminished and the men got further behind when the diving event was held. Santa Barbara does not have a diving team and cannot gain any points in these events, while UC Davis gained 185 points in the men’s diving events and 175 points in the women’s diving events.
“We out-swam everybody,” Wilson said. “We knew diving was going to be a problem.”
In the face of adversity, UCSB was not about to give in. The women received an inspiring performance in the 200 yard backstroke from freshman Katie Stover, who beat out any competitors with an NCAA “B” cut time of 1:58.93. Senior Katie Ure finished third and senior Jessica Schwalb fifth. In the 100 yard freestyle, the women were without May, who usually dominates the event, but still had five swimmers in the final eight and grabbed third through seventh places.
“[Stover] really had a good meet and swam very fast on relays,” Wilson said.
In the men’s 100 yard freestyle, sophomore Chris Peterson gave the Gauchos a win, with an NCAA “B” standard time of 44.33. Sophomore Kevin Ferguson finished second, junior Kevin Kuhn third and three other UCSB swimmers placed in the event, finishing in fifth, sixth and ninth place.
Santa Barbara did not have nearly as many swimmers in the finals of the 200 yard breaststroke, but put up excellent times nonetheless. For the women, the Gauchos’ only swimmer in the event, freshman Emily Adamczyk, placed second with a time of 2:14.85, an NCAA “B” standard qualifier. In the men’s race sophomore Tim Freeman, coming off a record-breaking swim in the 100 yard backstroke the previous day, posted a second-place time of 1:56.86, also an NCAA “B” standard qualifier. This time is not only a personal best for Freeman, but also breaks an 18-year UCSB school record.
The Gauchos also collected a win in the 200 yard butterfly, as senior Danny McClary put forth a winning time of 1:47.41, qualifying him for the NCAA “B” cut standard. Senior Chris Wiggin placed third with a time of 1:48.23, senior Jon Kraetsch fourth with a time of 1:48.26 and freshman Max Horrell fifth with a time of 1:50.57.
“We kind of were our own worst enemy,” Wilson said. “We had some opportunities and we did not capitalize on them. We could have stepped up in any number of ways.”
Despite these impressive swims, both Gaucho teams found themselves behind going in to the final swims of the meet, the 400 freestyle relays. Although the men were too far behind on the scoreboard to win the meet, the women had a shot if first-placed UC Davis false started. This was not the case, however, as the Aggies had a clean start, ensuring them the win. Out of first place contention, UCSB went out in style, winning both races with NCAA “B” cut times of 3:20.99 for the women and 2:58.46 for the men.
“This was a tough meet for us,” Wilson said. “You learn, you move on and you get back and go at it again.”