After four long and successful seasons at UCSB, top gun senior Pat Cary says goodbye to his collegiate swimming career to embark on a new adventure this summer in Brazil, and tackling the Olympic Trials next summer in Omaha, Neb.
Since arriving on campus Cary has been the star of the men’s swimming team, breaking school records and dominating at the NCAA Men and Women’s Swimming Championships. This year, Cary placed fifth in the 200-butterfly and eighth in the 100-butterfly. His fifth place finish earned him All-American recognition for the second year in a row. As his collegiate career wraps up, Cary will travel to Brazil this summer to compete with the USA National Team in the Pan American games.
“At the NCAA championships, I fractured my L5 vertebra so I was in a lot of pain. On the last day, I was seeing the chiropractor two to three times a day, so I was disappointed that I did not do as well as I wanted,” Cary said. “However, finishing eighth with a fractured vertebrae in the first event and finishing fifth in my second [event] was amazing. I just wished I could have been 100 percent because I could have done even better. Moving on to Brazil, it will be amazing. I’m going to swim with gold medal champs and have a chance to improve my butterfly stroke.”
Although injuries prevented Cary from performing at full strength, he was named Mid-Major Swimmer of the Year by CollegeSwimming.com for his performance at the NCAA. This is his third nomination in a row, and it came as a pleasant surprise to Cary.
“It was shocking because I didn’t think I did well, but I was honored and pleased,” Cary said. “This year, it was the fastest NCAA championship I have ever swum in so it was amazing to be a part of it and do so well despite my injury. Under the circumstances, I was very happy.”
Cary’s big challenge will come next year, as he will continue to practice with the swim team with his training focused on a shot at Olympic glory. The Olympic trials will be a make-or-break deal for Cary. If he earns the opportunity to go the Olympics, swimming may become his permanent career choice. However, if Cary does not qualify for the Beijing games, the communication major will graciously hang up his Speedo and pursue an alternate career. For now, Cary is excited to participate in Grand Pre-competitive meets, since they hand down cash prizes for the top swimmer.
“One thing that is very exciting is that, since I am no longer a college swimmer, I can compete in meets that give cash prizes, so it is nice to get a little cash on the side,” Cary said. “However, I will miss all the guys. It will be weird because even though I will not compete for UCSB, I will still be here. I’m still training. Everything is still the same, even though a lot of my buddies are gone.”
With Cary now focusing on his postcollegiate future, the UCSB men’s swimming team will lose a valuable member both in the pool and out. In addition to being a world-class swimmer, Cary was a great leader and teammate. Not only did he contribute with wins in the pool, but he always displayed good sportsmanship and was always willing to help a teammate in need.
The UCSB men’s swimming team will never be the same because Cary was a great leader and a talented swimmer. We can only hope that Olympic success is in the future for this Gaucho swim star.