The first home meet of 2011 is also the last of the season for UCSB men and women’s swimming and diving, and will once again have UCSB race against a high level of competition. Last year’s Big West Conference champion UC Davis as well as the Pacific swimming and diving team comes to Campus Pool this Saturday for dual meets against the Gauchos.

“[The meet] means a lot,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “Especially for these three women, as it’s their last year.”

The UCSB men’s team will not be losing any of its senior swimmers, but the women’s team will lose three seniors in diver Missy Burley, distance swimmer Astrid Amsallem and Brittany Borowitz, who competes in breaststroke, butterfly and individual medley events.

After competing in meets against nationally top-25 ranked teams such as UCLA, USC and UNLV, the UCSB women are prepared for the weekend’s meet against former champion UCD.

“Competing against top teams in the country motivates us to step up to tough competition,” junior Miranda Schneider said. “It gets us outside our comfort zones.”

Though the Big West conference has disbanded since the last time UCSB swam against the Aggies, Davis still has multiple swimmers returning from a championship team.

“UCD is a good team, but we have the talent to overcome whatever they throw at us,” Schneider said.

Davis has won its last three meets in a row, two of which were at home. UCD will compete in a dual meet today at Cal Poly before traveling to UCSB for the meet against the Gauchos on Saturday.

“There’s no doubt in our mind what we want to do,” Wilson said. “[UCSB women] want to prove to Davis that it’s gonna be a lot harder to win this year.”

As has been apparent all season, UCSB’s top swimmers continue to step up, but have needed help from teammates in order to achieve an overall victory at the end of the meet.

“Those athletes have to do it again, and we have to have more kids step up,” Wilson said. “We’re going to have to race head-to-head with their best kids and come out on top.”

The toughest competitor from UOP for the men will be freshman Oliver Simkovic. Simkovic, who competes in backstroke and individual medley events, has been named MPSF swimmer of the week two times in the month of January. His strongest event has been the 100- and 200-yard backstroke, an event that UCSB will be able to provide ample competition for with junior Kevin Ferguson.

“I’m positive Kevin has a really strong drive to win and get first,” junior Chris Peterson said. “I think he wants it more than the other guy.”

According to Peterson, an individual swimmer’s motivation and intensity plays a key role in deciding the final times and scores for their event. The last home meet of the year will provide the Gauchos with plenty of motivation, and the opportunity for one last meet at Campus Pool this season.

“That’s how the team attitude is, if you want it more than the other guy, you’re going to win,” Peterson said. “In our last home meet I think that mentality will be in all of us.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams begin their meets tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Campus Pool.