The UCSB men and women’s swim and dive teams are looking to find their first victory of the New Year this weekend in an away meet against rival UNLV.
The Gauchos travel to Las Vegas for a highly anticipated meet between two perennial conference rivals after losing to USC two weeks ago. The diving teams fell in their meet at UCLA during the same weekend.
“We had some good performances [at USC],” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “They were just that much better.”
Motivation won’t be an issue for the Gauchos this weekend as they look to gain some momentum on their seasons.
“It’s one of the longest rivalries we’ve had with any other team,” junior Ryan Garcia said.
The last time UCSB traveled to Las Vegas for a meet was two years ago, and UNLV proved to be a dominant competitor. The meet between the two teams last season was held at Campus Pool at UCSB, and yielded a victory for the Gauchos.
“To beat them at their pool after we beat them last year [at ours] would be a great achievement for our program,” Garcia said.
Achieving a victory this weekend would be even more fulfilling for the Gauchos considering they are going up against a highly touted UNLV team. As of Jan. 12, collegeswimming.com had the Rebel men’s swim team ranked at 16th in the nation.
“Being in the top 25 is something we strive to do,” sophomore Katie Stover said. “It’s not out of our reach at all, and we don’t care that they’re in the top 25.”
Competing against a higher ranked opponent is a challenge that UCSB has faced already this season. The last meet against USC provided the strongest competition for the Gauchos thus far, as the CSCAA Top-25 national poll ranked the Trojan men’s team at seventh in the nation, while the women’s team was ranked at #4. With conference meets quickly approaching, UCSB will try to utilize what they’ve learned when competing against higher ranked teams on its way to performing well during the post-season.
“We need to see what it’s like to swim against some of the best teams in the country,” Wilson said. “We want to be the best, so we have to compete against the best.”
UNLV’s strength all season has been in distance events, a weakness for UCSB. While the Gauchos have done well in short distance sprint events — they hold multiple nationally ranked times in the shorter events — the team has yet to show the same amount of talent in its longer races.
“This will be as competitive as anything we’ve ever done,” Wilson said. “It’s gone back and forth for nearly 30 years… I’m expecting that we’ll be challenged and we’ll get after it.”