By Galen Carrico
The UCSB women’s swim team has a tough weekend ahead of it as the Gauchos set to host #1 Cal this Friday at 2 p.m. at Campus Pool. On Saturday, Nov. 18, both the men’s and women’s teams will host Cal Poly at 11 a.m.
“[Cal] has been on a pretty hot streak lately,” Assistant Coach Jeremy Kipp said. “They are pretty much king of the hill right now.”
The Gauchos – who were picked to finish at the top of the Big West Conference this season – will have to perform well this weekend without the help of Head Coach Gregg Wilson, who had to leave for the Bay Area this week to see his newborn grandson. Kipp will be taking the helm this weekend for Santa Barbara who has been under Wilson for the last few decades.
“We will definitely need some help against the Cal Bears so if anyone likes fast swimming, this will be a chance to see some of the best in the country,” Kipp said.
Despite the fact that Cal is at the top of the national rankings, the Gaucho women are coming off a strong win in their home opener Nov. 4 against UC San Diego. The Gauchos won the meet 147-112, and sophomore Jessica Cruzat led the team with two individual wins in the 200 fly in 2:09.34 and the 500 free in 5:06.52.
Cruzat and senior team captain Jen Schwalb took the women to a first-place finish in the 200 free relay. Schwalb, who normally swims the 200 fly, swam like most of the team in events that she usually does not compete in. Schwalb took first in both the 100 free, with a time of 10:35.13, and the 200 back in 2:11.89.
Kipp said that the men’s and women’s swimmers competed in off events in order to test themselves against UCSD who is a Division-II competitor.
Although the Bears should be tough competition, Kipp said that he feels confident that Cal Poly will not be much of a problem. The Mustangs finished at the bottom of the conference last season, while UCSB took home the Big West title for both men and women.
“[Cal Poly] just got a new coach and they’re much improved already,” Kipp said. “They are way too far behind to actually challenge us like they will be able to in a few years. I think our men are just too strong and we have too much depth for them to really give us a go.”
The men are coming off a full week’s rest after defeating UC San Diego 174-84 last weekend on the road. Senior team captain Pat Cary won three individual events earning him Big West Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week honors for the first time this season. Cary took the 200 fly in 1:48:88, won the 100 fly three seconds ahead of the rest of competition with a time of 49.35 and won the 200 individual medley in 1:57.77 after out-touching freshman Kelvin Le of UCSD. Cary also helped take the Gaucho 200 medley team to a first place finish with a time of 1:36.87, a full second ahead of the other team.
“We beat them pretty soundly,” Kipp said. “I think we only lost a few events and we hadn’t raced since Hawaii.”