The UCSB men’s and women’s swim and dive teams celebrated their final dual meet of the season in winning fashion this past weekend with victories over visiting Cal Poly at Campus Pool on Saturday. The dual marked the last time 11 of the Gaucho senior swimmers would step into the pool during the regular season as they were honored at the meet.
“We came out against our rival and dispatched them,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “I think our seniors did great — it’s a very good way for them to go out.”
The win marks the first time ever since the program’s start in 1961 that the men have gone undefeated in dual meets, handing Cal Poly a 163-124 loss and finishing the season at a perfect 6-0. The women also evened the score against Cal Poly, beating the Mustangs by a score of 169-129 and winning four straight dual meets to close out the season 6-3.
UCSB went strong from the beginning, winning eight of the first 10 events, including the women’s 200-yard medley where the “A” relay team showed another strong performance. Sophomores Allie Knight, Sophia Yamauchi, Andrea Ward and senior Kendall Neely beat the Mustangs by over two seconds, combining for a time of 1:45.50.
The Gauchos outmatched Cal Poly in nearly every competition, winning 21 events out of the total 32. At one point, UCSB was able to collect 10 consecutive wins, sweeping five events, including the 50-yard freestyle with Neely and senior Chris Peterson recording two of the nine senior victories of the day. Neely finished with a time of 23.97 while Peterson touched the wall at 20.35, beating out eight other Gaucho swimmers that rounded out the top 10 in the event.
“We had this previous defeat weighing on us for four months,” Wilson said. “Everyone got up and swam well and contributed, so it’s very fulfilling.”
Knight, MPSF Athlete of the Week, continued her outstanding play as she beat out the No. 1 backstroke swimmer in the conference, senior Gloria Benefield, in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke, winning in 57.29 and 2:03.54, respectively. Knight later won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:06.90, edging out her opponent by .08 seconds.
Three other Gauchos were multiple event winners on the day. Yamauchi continued her strong performance in the breaststroke, winning the 100- and 200-yard and finishing the season with a perfect record in her individual events. Ward won three events, including the 200-yard freestyle and the 100- and 200-yard butterfly. Senior Evan Simoni closed out his career with three individual victories in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke and 200-yard IM.
“We’re hoping we can get a lot of momentum,” Wilson said. “This was a very significant weekend; we have to use this to press the conference and NCAA championships.”
The Gauchos now prepare for conference championships, when the men’s team will swim in the Pac-12 Swimming Championships hosted at Long Beach beginning Feb. 29 and the women’s team will compete in the MPSF Swimming Championships Feb. 15, also held at Long Beach.