The UCSB men’s swim and dive team has traveled to Federal Way, Washington to compete in the swimming portion of the Pac-12 Championships. With 10 points already in the books thanks to freshman diver Lester Wright from last weekend’s Diving Championships, the Gauchos have built momentum as they head into the latter portion of the competition.
The Gaucho men enter these championships with a final dual meet record of 6-2. Looking to improve upon last year’s seventh-place standing, Santa Barbara will be facing stiff competition as four of the teams competing rank in the top 15 in the country.
“We have seen where we are seeded, and it is actually very encouraging,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “I’m also really glad that we already have points on the board because we haven’t had that in years past.”
The Gaucho men will look to their strength in the sprint freestyle events to add a great deal of additional points. Junior Wade Allen has managed to put up blistering times this season, which has propelled him into the fifth seed of both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events with times of 19.69 and 43.26, respectively. Allen is also seeded sixth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 46.65.
UCSB will look to find resilience in their relay events as well. The Gauchos rank sixth in both the 200-yard medley relay and 800-yard freestyle relay with times of 1:28.18 and 6:33.44, respectively. They rank fourth in the 200-yard freestyle relay, with a top time of 1:19.07, and fifth in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 2:56.53.
Two Gauchos to take note of will be sophomore Mickey Mowry and senior Randy Aakhus. Mowry has been stellar of late, especially in the 200-yard butterfly where he sits in the eighth seed with a time of 1:45.49. Aakhus has been a solid contributor all season and is seeded ninth in the 400 IM with a time of 3:50.94.
Senior co-captain Lucas Norman will also put his talents on display as he looks to lead and set an example for the younger UCSB swimmers. Norman has been a leader by example all season, helping Santa Barbara win a number of relays and putting up solid individual times.
“Everyone is really excited and looking forward to what we’ve been training for all year,” Norman said. “We want to place higher than we did last year and contend at a higher level.”
Another senior that will be leading the charge is Ryan Hanni. Hanni has been a sprint freestyle specialist for the Gauchos over the past couple meets and is currently seeded 14th in both the 50- and 200-yard freestyle events with times of 20.05 and 1:36.57, respectively. Hanni is also seeded 10th in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 43.65.
With so many swimmers competing in each event, the preliminaries will be key to earing a coveted spot in the top eight A-finals. Seeding times are also incredibly close which means that there is a great deal of room for surprises and tenths of a second could make the difference.
“We have a really good group and our men want to go out on a high note,” Wilson said. “In this competition there are always these pleasant surprises where one or two kids just go nuts.”
Competition began yesterday with the finals of the 200-yard medley relay and the 800-yard freestyle relay, and will conclude Saturday evening following the 400-yard freestyle relay.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of the Daily Nexus.