The UCSB swim and dive team will play host to familiar opponent Cal Poly this Saturday at Campus Pool in their final dual meet of the season. The Gauchos will have a lot of emotion on their side as they plan to send their senior swimmers off on a high in their senior meets.
The Gaucho men will be honoring seven of their seniors, including captain Kevin Ferguson, who competes in the sprint freestyle and backstroke events. The women will bid farewell to four of their seniors, including their two captains, butterfly swimmer Miranda Schneider and backstroke swimmer Kendall Neely, who also swims as part of the 200-yard medley “A” relay team.
“This is an emotional meet,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “All of the underclassmen want to win this for the team but also to send our seniors off.”
After coming off a huge victory against defending conference champions UC Davis, the women’s team will now shift its focus and turn their attention to Cal Poly which earlier in the fall handed the women’s team their worst defeat of the season (177.5-117.5).
The men’s team defeated Cal Poly earlier in the season 167-121 and now has the opportunity to give Coach Wilson his first undefeated season in 35 years, as they enter competition with a perfect 5-0 record in dual meets.
“We will have to be at the top of our game in virtually every single event,” Wilson said. “We are going to need much more productivity this week.”
The Mustangs have not competed since Jan. 14, where they had a dominating showing against UC Santa Cruz. Cal Poly will give Santa Barbara problems in distance events where both the men and women look to take advantage of the 500- and 1,000-yard freestyle events and the men’s team will try to upend the Gauchos in the 1,650-yard competition.
UCSB will have its toughest challenge against senior Gloria Benefield who earlier in the year was honored as MPSF athlete of the week. Benefield competes in the fly and freestyle events and is the best backstroke swimmer in the conference. She will, however, be tested in the backstroke when she matches up against current MPSF Athlete of the Week, sophomore Allie Knight, who last weekend won all five individual events she swam in.
“[Knight] is one of the women we are counting on to make a difference in turning the score around from earlier in the year,” Wilson said.
The dual meet will commence with the diving competitions starting at 11 a.m.