While Gaucho swimmers prepare for the Big West Championships in Long Beach starting Feb. 26, their focus still remains on their rematch with the University of the Pacific.
The men’s squad held a 23-year winning streak over before UOP broke the trend last season.
“We have a better team this year than we did last year, and UOP has a worse team. I think that if everyone swims well, then we have a good chance at a win,” senior co-captain Marc Cavallero said.
Two-time Big West Swimmer of the Year senior Matt Wheeler leads UCSB. Junior Eric Koch, the favorite to win the 1,000 and 1,650 freestyle after recording conference bests in both events this year, will aid the Gauchos. UCSB has a good shot at sweeping the 1,000 and 1,650 with emerging junior Matt Schubert and freshman Garrett Porteous.
Freshmen Pat Ota, Thomas Erwin and Ben Fisher will all compete in the 100 and 200 backstroke. Ota will also swim in the 100 butterfly, and Shaun Crossman will lead the team in the 200.
Cavallero, along with sophomores Derek Ogata and Scott Baer, will swim the breast stroke, and Ogata and Baer will aid senior David Robinson, junior Ryan Dingler and senior Anders Nelson in sprint freestyle. Wheeler and Crossman will swim the individual medley for the Gauchos.
The women enter the championships led by senior Julia King and sophomore Lindsay Dalonzo. Dalonzo has already broken two school records this year, in the 100 and 200 backstroke.
Junior Stephanie Netzley and senior Romina Mosquera will swim the distance freestyle, with help from sophomore twin sisters Abby and Emily Murad and junior Colleen Barnett. Netzley, Dalonzo, King and freshman Danielle Taylor swim in the backstroke, as UCSB hopes to place four women in the top eight of the 100 backstroke.
Netzley, senior Kristel Haesler, sophomores Pam Wong and Jen Moeckel, and freshman Shannon Avison will swim butterfly. Breast stroke features Wong, freshman Jennifer Cook and senior Tammy Pratummas. King, Mosquera and Dalonzo swim in the sprint freestyle, with sophomore Becky Glusac, and freshmen Lauren Moskovitz, Megan Barnett and Allison Eller. Wong, Taylor and Haesler will swim the individual medley for UCSB.
“We have depth in the distance events, the sprinting, the medley, everywhere,” Mosquera said concerning the women’s squad.
Since their loss to UOP on Jan. 17, the Gauchos’ focus has centered on revenge against UOP.
“We’re excited to get them back,” Cavallero said.
The women’s squad was upset by the dual meet loss to UOP this season, and remains convinced that the UCSB swimmers can reclaim their standing over their biggest rivals.
“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” UCSB Head Assistant Coach Jeremy Kipp said.
– Matt Faust contributed to this story.