Santa Barbara swimming made a huge splash in the opening day of the Big West Conference Championships on Wednesday night with three record-breaking performances and the men going back to their hotel in first place.
“We are off to a fantastic start,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said.
Wins in the 1,000-yard freestyle and 800-yard freestyle relay and a second-place finish in the 200-yard medley helped kick the Gaucho men into first place after the first of the four-day championships. The women used a strong 800 freestyle relay to propel themselves to fourth place by the end of the day.
“Jason [Hardy] had a great swim,” freshman Brooks Felton said. “Our distance is strong and with the 500 free coming up tomorrow we should be able to get four or five guys in the top eight.”
Felton took fourth place in the 1000 free with a time of 9:24.40, behind Hardy, who won the event with a time of 9:15.34 and sophomore Brent Nolan who took second with a time of 9:21.58.
“The distance was good,” Felton said, “but we have to give it up to the 200 medley tonight.”
Junior Patrick Ota, senior Derek Ogata, sophomore Pat Cary and senior Scott Baer started the day off strong, taking second place in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:29.71, which was good enough to set a new school record.
The men and women both ended the night with victories in the 800 freestyle relay. Sophomore Myles Peck and juniors Grant Hurst, Robbie Dame and Garrett Porteous were able to set a school and conference record with a total time of 6:33.71 and earn consideration for the NCAA championships.
Senior Lindsay Dalonzo, senior Stephanie Netzley, junior Allison Eller and sophomore Jennifer Schwalb led the way in the 800 freestyle relay, finishing first with a total time of 7:24.80.
“We ended the evening on a very high note,” Wilson said, “and in very dramatic fashion.”
With the first day of competition out of the way, the men are happy to be in first place, but know that there is still plenty of swimming left and that they can only go down in the standings.
“It gives us a nice advantage by starting off strong like we did,” Felton said. “But there are three days of swimming ahead, and they’re all going to be challenging swims.”
Currently in fourth place, the women’s team is gearing up for the days ahead and is taking comfort in the night’s high notes.
“It’s very tight right now [in the standings],” Wilson said. “But we had some good races. They haven’t won [the 800 freestyle relay] for about 10 years and they broke the school record by two seconds. It’s very exciting.”
Santa Barbara has a full day of competition Thursday with the 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relay events scheduled.