All good things must come to an end eventually. For the UCSB men’s and women’s swim teams, that time came too soon.
The University of the Pacific ended the 23-year reign of the UCSB men’s swim team on Saturday night at the Big West Conference Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships. The women’s squad also fell to UOP.
The Tigers’ men’s team placed first in the team championship and won all relays, which brought an end to the NCAA and Big West record run by the Gauchos. The Pacific women’s team outscored second-place Santa Barbara by 112 points.
“It was very tough to handle [the defeat],” UCSB Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “Our athletes are a little distressed right now.”
Both of the UCSB squads led the competition after the first day, but UOP turned the afterburners on in the second day. The Tigers stormed ahead by snatching first in 13 of the 18 events to take the lead for both the men’s and women’s for good. Pacific was dominant all weekend as it took first in 31 of the 38 events over the weekend.
Despite the losses, the weekend was not a total bust for the Gauchos. Senior Kevin Herlihy, junior Matt Wheeler and sophomore Eric Koch all took first in two events apiece for Santa Barbara. Junior Julia King also set a school record in the 100-yard backstroke for UCSB.
Herlihy, a native of Oakland, Calif., capped off a stellar career at UCSB by winning the 500 free with a time of 4:27.21 on the first day of competition and then took home the 200 free title with a time of 1:38.65 on day two.
Wheeler, the 2000 and 2001 Big West Swimmer of the year and San Jose, Calif. native, was the champion in the 200 individual medley (1:50.99) and the 400 IM (3:54.70).
Koch, a native of Aptos, Calif., defended his titles in the 1,000 free (9:17.33) and the 1,650 free (15:36.99).
King, hailing from Lookout Mountain, Colo., set a Gaucho record in the 100-yard back, finishing second with a time of 55.41.