Gaucho swimmer Pat Cary made waves on a national level Friday and Saturday in Minneapolis at the NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships.

Cary competed in the 100 butterfly Friday and the 200 fly Saturday, but his times of 48.14 and 1:46.96, respectively, were not enough to advance him past the preliminaries.

“I knew I would have to step up, because it’s the fastest meet in the world,” Cary said. “But I just didn’t. I will have to take this as a learning experience.”

Cary took first place in the same events during the Big West Championships held in February, setting new school and conference records in the two events. His record-setting times of 47.69 and 1:45.32 were the 28th- and 13th-fastest in the nation and earned him the invitation to the championships.

“He didn’t swim as fast as he had in conference,” UCSB swim Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “He has his best times in the evenings and he had to come in ready [for the morning prelims].”

Despite the slower performance, Wilson was nothing but optimistic when discussing the future of the sophomore butterflyer from Trabuco Canyon.

“This guy is like a big puppy; he’s going to grow and get bigger and better,” Wilson said. “This is just scratching the surface of his abilities. He’s turned a lot of heads and made himself known across the nation.”

Cary is also confident about the future and hopes to count this as experience gained.

“It’s something I can build off of in the future,” Cary said. “I’ll be back next year and I’ll take in points.”

Cary found himself in unfamiliar water when he didn’t take home first place in his signature events. The only other time that happened this season was in a dual meet against University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“He can hold his own against anybody,” Wilson said. “But the NCAA Championships are like nothing else – you have to watch it to really understand it. There is no substitute for the experience gained at an event like this.”