Both UCSB swim teams rocketed off the starting blocks to kick off the Big West Championships at Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach this week. The meet, which started on Wednesday, is four days long with the final day coming up tomorrow.
Both the Santa Barbara men and women found success in the very first race of the meet, defending their titles in the 200 yard medley relay. This race has long been one of Santa Barbara’s strengths. The women’s team of senior Naomi Javanifard, freshman Emily Adamczyk, senior Katie Ure and senior Anne Marie May blew away the competition with a time of 1:40.41. For the men, it was the team of sophomore Kevin Ferguson, sophomore Tim Freeman, senior Danny McClary and sophomore Chris Peterson that beat out their opponents with a time of 1:28.47.

UCSB finished off the day with a strong showing in the 800 yard freestyle relay. Both the men and the women swam well but could not keep up with the blazing speed from both UC Davis relay teams. The Gauchos placed second in both races, the women with a time of 7:24.02 and the men a time of 6:37.16.

When the first day ended, the UCSB women found themselves in first place with 114 points, 14 ahead of second-place Cal Poly. The men ended the day in fourth place, 35 points behind leader UC Davis.

The Gauchos continued to excel on Thursday, winning several of the day’s events. Both relay teams overwhelmed the competition in the 400 yard medley relay. The women finished with a time of 3:46.27, almost three seconds ahead of the second place Cal Poly team. The men had a winning time of 3:17.40, again almost three seconds ahead of the second-place finisher UC Davis.

Santa Barbara also won both 50 yard freestyle events. For the women, May, who holds the record in this event and has won it for the past three years, showed her dominance with a first place time of 22.60. In the men’s race, Peterson won with an impressive time of 20.14, junior Kevin Kuhn placed second with 20.21 and junior Dan Morris came in fourth with 20.55.

The men also had two great swims in the 500 yard freestyle, taking second and third place in the event. Senior Joe Plume came in second for UCSB and senior Scott Vogelgesang finished just .05 seconds after his teammate to take third place.

With the Championships halfway completed, the swimmers from UCSB still have a long way to go to maintain their status as the top dogs in the Big West. The men’s team is looking to win its third consecutive championship while the women look to win their fifth consecutive Big West title.

Some individual races to look forward to are the men’s 100 freestyle, where Kuhn will look to repeat as winner, the men’s 100 yard backstroke, where Ferguson will also attempt to defend his title from last year, and the women’s 100 yard freestyle where May will try to win for the fourth consecutive time. Both the men’s and women’s relay teams also look to repeat as champs in both the 200 and the 400 yard freestyle relays.