The UCSB women’s swim team dove into the pool for practice Monday after coming off a successful weekend meet at UCLA, where the squad beat Oregon State 192-190 before losing to UCLA 156-98.
Freshmen Sophia Yamauchi, Mariah Tharp and Andrea Ward excelled during the meet, which happened to be the trio’s first event at the collegiate level. Yamauchi finished the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:02.18 — the second best time overall and third best for the event in UCSB history. She also placed second in the 200-yard breaststroke as well with a time of 2:16.44, which puts her in fourth place on the UCSB all-time list.
“Our freshman…are meeting and exceeding expectations at this time of year,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said.
“The team was very upbeat the whole time,” Yamauchi said. “We keep everyone positive. It’s like a domino effect.”
Tharp was UCSB’s best swimmer in the 50-yard freestyle, finishing third in 24.24. She also finished fourth in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 53.17, just behind third place finisher and teammate, sophomore Katie Tomkinson who finished in 53.00.
Ward placed first in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:59.26, beating the second place swimmer by .31 seconds.
“We all work really well together,” Ward said. “(To be league champions) we just need to keep up the momentum and stay focused.”
UCSB beat Oregon State in every event except for the 100 and 200-yard backstroke. UCLA finished first overall after beating the Gauchos in 13 out of 16 events.
Junior Missy Burley will be the newest addition to the UCSB women’s diving team, which was not a part of the program last year. Burley, a competitor in the pole vaulting event for UCSB track and field, has already become quickly adapted to her newest sport.
“She came out here and learned eight dives in one day,” Wilson said. “It was unbelievable. Just great.”
The addition of assistant coach Tim Siciliano, a three-time NCAA champion swimmer at the University of Michigan, will give the UCSB women’s swimming and diving program experience and leadership. This will have a heavy impact on the performance of the team throughout the year, as UCSB lost six graduating seniors from last year’s squad and is without two assistant coaches from last year’s team as well.
The women’s team placed second in a Big West conference that has since been disbanded. The remaining teams in the defunct league moved to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, which is also home to the men’s volleyball team and includes former Big West squads Cal Poly, Pacific and Davis, along with Cal State Bakersfield, Loyola Marymount, Northern Colorado, Seattle University and the University of San Diego.
Meanwhile, the men’s team has moved to the Pac-10.
With the addition of Siciliano, Burley and the increasing success of the freshman class, the UCSB women’s swimming and diving team is poised to make a dramatic run in the MPSF.
“This was the best meet we’ve ever had against UCLA,” Wilson said. “The freshman class is coming into their own, and everyone just did very, very well.”
UCSB will return to the pool for practice over the next two weeks. The team hosts UC San Diego on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 11 a.m.