The UCSB swimming team obliterated Pacific at Campus Pool on Saturday afternoon in their last dual meet of the season, honoring the outgoing seniors in a ceremony before the men posted a 167-85 win, with the women also winning 163-94.
With the win, the men’s swimming team finishes the season 5-2, while the women ended their season 6-3. Both wins came after a tough road loss at UNLV last weekend, in which the men lost 169-93 and the women lost 141-121. For Pacific, the meet was their second of the weekend. The Tigers lost to Cal Poly on Friday. Both losses dropped the men to 1-7, while the women finished 5-5, with a 2-1 conference record.
“We returned the favor upon Pacific that UNLV bestowed on us,” Gaucho Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “It was our senior day, reminiscent of when we went to Vegas, only a little more one-sided. We beat [Pacific] much worse than UNLV beat us.”
According to Wilson, the win gives the Gauchos a momentum boost before the Big West Conference Championships on Feb. 25 at Long Beach’s Belmont Plaza and the NCAA Championships in Texas at the end of March. Five women have already earned qualifying times for the NCAA tournament – junior Anne Marie May, seniors Katy Freeman, Naomi Javanifard and Erin Yamamoto, and sophomore Sara Nicponski. For the men’s team, Wilson believes the 4×50 and 4×100 sprint freestyle relays have the best shot at qualifying.
“The NCAA usually takes the top 21 or 22 times in each event [to swim in the tournament],” Wilson said. “So it’s pretty hard. In relays they only take the top 12 or 13. We thought we had a fast enough relay to go last year, but during the time trials in Long Beach, three teams went ahead of us in the 4×50 event and we didn’t make it. It was really heartbreaking.”
The dual meet against Pacific began with the women’s “A” Team of Javanifard, Freeman, May and junior Katie Ure winning the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:44.42. The men’s “C” team also took first in the event with a time of 1:37.39, in spite of the men’s “A” and “B” relay teams being disqualified. After losing the men’s and women’s 1,000 freestyle, the Gauchos took the next six events. UCSB also dominated the sprint events, with senior Jeff Sudbury and freshman Chris Peterson capturing the 50 and 100 free events, respectively. May won the 100 free with a time of 51.62, and senior Nadia Dwidar took the 50 with a time of 24.16.
The team also showed some life in their weaker distance events, with three Gauchos taking the top three spots in the women’s 500 freestyle and freshman Jimmy Gaston taking second in the 1,000 before earning first place in the 500 with a season-best time of 4:39.34.
“[Gaston] was one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of the meet,” Wilson said. “At the end of October, Jimmy had a lifetime best performance in the 1,000, and we haven’t seen him since.”
According to Wilson, the two weeks leading up to the Big West Tournament are a time of “tapering” for the team, in which the Gauchos rest and take lighter workouts in an attempt to earn their best times to qualify for the NCAAs.