The UCSB men’s and women’s swim teams took on Big West rival Pacific for their final regular season swim meet on a cold and rainy Saturday morning in Stockton.
What was billed as two of the top Big West heavyweights duking it out for bragging rights turned into a one sided affair with the Tigers sweeping the Gauchos 166-95 for the men, and 166-93 for the women, to end their regular season on a sour note.
“We were very ready to swim fast, but so were they,” said Gregg Wilson, head coach for UCSB’s men’s and women’s teams. “UOP’s preparation was superior.”
The men, who fall to 9-5 on the season, were no match for UOP, as the Tigers took first in 13 of the 14 meet events. Sophomore Eric Koch was the lone Gaucho to finish first for the men, taking the top time in the 1000-meter freestyle (9:29.33).
The women, who finish the regular season with a respectable 12-6 record, also struggled points-wise against UOP. The Gauchos were only able to muster two first-place finishes against the Tigers, who avenged two early season losses at the hands of the Gauchos. Junior Kristel Haesler was the only bright spot for Santa Barbara, winning the 200-meter butterfly with a time of 2:08.62. The other Gaucho win came in the 200-meter free relay (1:37.58).
“Our athletes were very upset about this meet,” said Wilson.
However lopsided the scores, the result did not necessarily mean the meet was a total disaster for the Gauchos. UCSB actually swam pretty well, considering that the men swam their fastest times of the season in seven of their events.
Junior Matt Wheeler swam the fastest Gaucho times in the 200-meter backstroke (1:52.90) and 200-meter individual medley (1:55.34). Senior Ethan Hall also had his best swims of the season, swimming the 100-meter breaststroke in a time of 58.02 and the 200-meter breast in a time of 2:04.04, both Gaucho seasonal bests. Sophomore Shaun Crossman also swam well, shaving .77 seconds off his best 200 butterfly time, clocking in at 1:51.52. The women also managed to swim well, swimming their fastest 200-meter relay of the season, with a time of 1:37.58.
The losses leave the Gauchos with the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths as they head into their last meet of the season – also their biggest meet of the season – the Big West Conference Championships.
Despite such tough losses at the hands of their conference rivals, the meet served as a big wake-up call to the Gauchos who have comfortably sat atop the Big West in terms of swimming dominance. The women are defending Big West Conference champs and the men are 23-time defending Big West Champs.
“We will be ready to swim.” Wilson said of his teams’ preparation for the conference meet, which takes place Feb. 14-16, at the Belmont Plaza in Long Beach. “You’re going to see the real Gaucho team in three weeks.”