The UCSB swim team heads to Hawaii this weekend to face off with former assistant coach and Gaucho swimmer, Victor Wales, who is now the head coach at the University of Hawaii.
“He has really turned the program around over there,” UCSB Head Coach Gregg Wilson said.
Wales was both a swimmer, from 1998 to 1992, and an assistant coach under Wilson. The duo led the Gauchos to 10 Big West Conference Championships in Wales’ 11 years in the program. Wales, a two-time NCAA Division I all-American and team captain, helped Wilson rear two school record holder, two all-American athletes, four Olympic qualifiers and a future 2000 Olympian in his final year with the program.
Santa Barbara was recently ranked first, for both the women’s and men’s divisions, in the Big West Conference pre-season coaches poll. However, in the women’s team’s first meet of the season, held Oct. 13 at UCLA, they were unexpectedly defeated by Oregon State and UCLA. Yet, sophomore Jessica Cruzat shook off the loss only to look ahead to the first meet in which both men’s and women’s teams would compete together, stating that the women are much stronger with the men’s support cheering them on.
“I don’t think we were ready going into it,” Cruzat said. “I know [Hawaii] is going to be a challenge and we cannot think it’s going to be easy.”
Cruzat explained that her team was too confident going into the Oct. 13 meet and came in thinking it was going to be a win. She explained that as soon as the Gauchos lost the first race, they knew it was harder than they thought it would be.
Cruzat, despite her team’s loss, finished first in the 200 backstroke in 2:03.94 and also placed third in the 200 individual medley, coming in at 2:08.54. She also placed second in the 100 backstroke and the 100 breaststroke, finishing both races in 58.21.
Women’s team captain, senior Jen Schwalb, took another individual race on the day, winning the 200 IM with a time of 2:05.77.
However, freshman Dan McClary is confident that Wilson’s more than 30 years of coaching experience will prevail in the face-off this weekend with his prot