Anticipating conference domination this season, the UCSB swim team is looking to turn heads and finally give former Gaucho swimmer Jason Lezak something to stare at besides those shiny Olympic gold medals hanging from his neck.

Today at 1 p.m., UC San Diego will splash into Santa Barbara attempting to defy the water gods here and come away with an upset victory. The matchup will be a difficult one for the Gauchos, who are looking to start strong in their season opener.

“We’re playing against a very good team that is very well-coached, and our men and women are excited to start the season,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “We’ve had a really hard week in training and we’ve got some injuries to deal with that are a little frustrating. We do have a lot of depth though, especially in our freestyle events.”

“We’re taking the meet pretty seriously, but we’re doing more of a mental preparation,” said junior Patrick Ota, who swims the backstroke and butterfly.

While the men are concentrating solely on today’s meet, the women will have an even tougher challenge before them this weekend, as they will travel to Los Angeles after today’s meet and compete there tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.

Wilson said that his goals for the men are to win the Big West Conference and defend their championship title from last season. For the women, he is looking for each member to accomplish personal best times by the end of the season, explaining that if they can accomplish that, then other things will fall into place.

“I’m going with a different approach [this season] and I’m really excited about how things are coming together. They’ve had a great couple weeks of practice,” Wilson said. “I just want all the girls to really enjoy themselves.”

Besides enjoyment, the men also are holding high hopes for the season.

Ota said that this year he expects to dominate the conference and is looking for better individual showings at the NCAA finals.

“There are a couple guys pretty close [to making it to the NCAA finals], including myself, so hopefully we will get some guys in it this year,” Ota said.