After capturing the Big West men’s and women’s championships in February, the UCSB swim team has continued its winning ways into the postseason.
With trips to the American Short Course Championships, the NCAA Championships, and the USA Spring Championships the Gauchos have kept themselves busy since the end of regular season.
“This was the most successful championship season we’ve had in 15 years,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “Each meet we went to we had multiple successes.”
Three Gauchos traveled to the NCAA Championships held in Georgia. Senior Pat Ota and junior Pat Cary represented the Gaucho men.
As Cary’s second trip to the NCAA meet, he knew a little more of what to expect.
“This year he experienced swimming in the meet, swimming in the finals, swimming in the top finals,” said Wilson. “Last year he just experienced the meet.”
Cary surpassed expectations and finished fifth and 14th in the 200- and 100-meter butterfly, respectively. He earned All-American status for his efforts and set a new personal best time in the 200.
Ota finished off his college career with a 24th-place finish in the 100-meter backstroke in his first trip to the NCAA meet.
On the women’s side, junior Jen Schwalb was the lone representative at the NCAA championships for UCSB.
“We thought we were going to have three but the timing standards this year were so difficult that Jessica Cruzat and Katy Freeman did not make it – last season they would have easily qualified with their times,” said Wilson.
Schwalb competed in the 200-meter IM, and the 100- and 200-meter butterfly. She placed 19th in the 200 fly, matching her finish last year at the same meet.
“At the NCAA meet, only 25 percent of the women improve from their qualifying time, and Jen was one of the 25 percent,” Wilson said.
The American Short Course Championships, held at the beginning of March in Austin, featured swimmers from college, club and post-collegiate levels. The meet provided an alternative for the Gaucho swimmers who did not have the necessary qualifying times for the NCAA meet.
“It was a perfect meet for them, “Wilson said. “Our kids did really well.” Sophomore Curtis Bauer, freshman Bradley Matsumoto, sophomore Mason Edwards and freshman Robert Hansen combined to win the 200-meter freestyle relay. On the women’s side, freshmen Jamie Lathers, Nadia Dwidar, Jessica Cruzat and Erin Yamamoto finished second in the same event.
The meet exposed many young UCSB swimmers to national competition.
“Take a swimmer like Bradley Matsumoto, who had a brilliant freshman year,” said Wilson. “He did not make the NCAA, but we take him to the American Short Course Championship … and he swam his lifetime best.”
Matsumoto swam to an 11th-place finish in the 50-meter freestyle, while freshman Katy Freeman placed fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke.
After the NCAA meet, three Gaucho men traveled to Seattle for the USA Spring Championship long-course meet.
Cary earned two Olympic Trial qualifying times with his third place finish in the 100-meter butterfly and seventh place in the 200 fly. With his times Cary is the fifth- and seventh-fastest American this year in those events, respectively.
“When you’re in the top three at the national championship it’s a significant step forward,” said Wilson.
Freshman Chris Good finished in 12th place in the 400-meter IM. Sophomore teammate Brooks Felton swam a personal best time in the 400-meter freestyle.