After 30 years, 35 Big West titles and 31 All-Americans while at the helm of the UCSB men’s and women’s swim teams, it seemed as though Nexus Coach of the Year Gregg Wilson could not be any more successful going into the 2006 season. Yet, as he has done nearly every season with the Gauchos, Wilson put together two teams that were once again competing for the Big West title.
“We’re kind of spoiled,” Wilson said. “We get bright kids and now because of the tradition and success, we’ve got a well-oiled machine. We’re getting good kids in every year.”
In 2006, the Gauchos completed the conference title sweep, with both the men’s and women’s teams snagging the Big West championships. The titles mark the men’s and women’s 25th and 10th wins, respectively, with Wilson patrolling the pool deck for UCSB.
“When I reflect, this has been the most fun I’ve had coaching in 30 years,” Wilson said.
Even after taking the titles, the success continued for the Gauchos. Wilson received both Big West Coach of the Year awards and freshman Katy Freeman was named Big West Freshman of the Year. Santa Barbara sent 12 athletes to the American Short Course Championships, and juniors Jen Schwalb and Pat Cary and senior Pat Ota to the NCAA Championships.
Wilson credits much of the consistent success of the Gaucho swim teams to his assistant coaches Jeremy Kipp and Naya Higashijima.
“My assistant coaches and I laughed so much, they made it fun. They are huge in all of this,” Wilson said. “There is definitely a high correlation between the assistant coaches and our success as a team.”
With nine seniors leaving the two teams, Wilson has put together a 2006-2007 freshman class of 21 recruits including the younger siblings of three current Gaucho swimmers.
“Our biggest task for next year is to try to match what we did this year or exceed it,” Wilson said.
Behind Wilson’s coaching, Santa Barbara can expect to continue its long history of success for many seasons to come.