By Galen Carrico

The UCSB swim team and Head Coach Gregg Wilson have their sights set on the Big West Conference Championships, and are wasting no time in preparation for the meet which will be held Feb. 15-18 in Long Beach. Wilson gave his team little room to rest following a dual meet on Saturday against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as the Gauchos continued swimming laps long after the opposing team left the pool area.

The women’s team defeated the Rebels 147-115, with the biggest contributions coming from the young talent on the team – three freshmen had double wins. Freshman Jessica Cruzat won three individual races while also aiding in a victory in the 200 medley relay and freshman Erin Yamamoto won both the 500 freestyle and the 200 butterfly.

“Every time [Yamamoto] swims she surprises,” Wilson said. “She did a great job today.”

He also noted the performances of freshmen Nadia Dwidar, who won the 100 and 200 freestyle, and Jenisse Demeulenaere, who was on the winning 200 medley relay team.

The Gaucho men were defeated by UNLV 156-106, but both Wilson and the team seemed optimistic about their chances in the coming Conference Championships, which are a few weeks away – giving the team time to recuperate and get back on track. Wilson said that some team members have to get over their late-season slumps.

“We got a few guys that are what we call having the ‘taper blues’ which means they are kind of tapering off at the end of the season,” Wilson said. “But all they need is a couple weeks’ rest, and that’s just what we’re gonna do.”

The Gauchos have no reason to be anything but optimistic with Wilson running things on the pool deck. Wilson has coached the Gauchos for 26 seasons, collecting 33 total conference championships and winning Big West Coach of the Year 19 times.

The men’s team was led by senior Pat Cary, who won the 200 butterfly and was on the winning 200 medley relay team along with senior Patrick Ota, who also had a win in the 100 backstroke. Yet the men’s team struggled against a UNLV team that was very strong in the shorter events, Wilson said.

Despite the loss for the men Saturday, coaches and swimmers alike seem confident about their chances in the Big West Conference meet. Seniors Garrett Porteous and Cary agreed that the schools to beat in the conference would be Pacific, UC Irvine and UC Davis. The Gauchos have already defeated Pacific and Davis this year, and according to Cary they beat Irvine “on paper” and it seems recovery time is just what the Gaucho men’s team needs to perform well at conference.

“We look to win it,” Porteous said. “Our sights are set for winning.”

The dual meet with UNLV was the last scoring meet for the Gauchos, who host Cal in a nonscoring meet Feb. 4 before the Conference Championships. The seniors, who were competing in their last official meet, were honored by a ceremony with flowers and candy handed out by Wilson.