A new season in a new conference has come to an end for the UCSB women’s swimming and diving team, which took second place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship this past weekend. The Gauchos finished with 629 points. With 726 points, UC Davis took first place.
[media-credit name=”Sasza Lohrey” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit] “It was a lot bigger meet,” junior Kendall Neely said. “There were a lot more people to race against. We had a strong showing in pretty much every event.”
UCSB’s underclassmen once again secured the most points for the team, which received strong performances from multiple freshmen. Freshman Allie Knight placed first in the 200-yard backstroke in 1:58.21, while freshman Andrea Ward placed second in the long distance freestyle event with a time of 16:49.91. Freshman Sophia Yamauchi took second place in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:12.27.
Knight, Ward and Yamauchi set four new school records between them. Still, the new school records were not enough to win the championship for UCSB.
“[The records] were very, very good,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “I was hoping that we would have a chance to win it but Davis’ kids did very well.”
Davis graduates eight of its senior women from this year’s squad, while UCSB will only be losing three, including diver Missy Burley. Burley scored nine points on the weekend for the Gauchos in her first conference championship meet of her diving career, and the first for the women’s diving team in more than 10 years.
“You could tell when she was on the board she looked like a diver,” Wilson said. “That was nine more points than we’ve had in the past 13 years.”
The men’s swimming and diving team will have its conference championship meet this coming weekend. The meet will be the first league championship for the Gauchos as part of the Pac-10 conference.
“We are going to represent UCSB very well and represent ourselves very well,” Wilson said. “We’ll be as competitive as we possibly can.”
UCSB men’s swimming has competed against higher-ranked teams on more than one occasion this season. The Gauchos lost in a dual meet at USC in January, and lost again on the road at UNLV the following meet, when the Rebels were ranked #22 in the nation.
“[Competing against better teams] gave us a taste of what’s out there in the Pac-10,” junior Chris Peterson said. “We know there’s going to be some amazing competition.”
The strongest swims for the men’s team all season have been its short-distance sprint events. Swimmers such as Peterson have been placing in the top-3 finishers in breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle events all season, and look forward to a productive meet this weekend.
“A lot of us are strong sprinters,” Peterson said. “We have a strong medley relay and sprint relay, and our hopes are to score high in those.”
The Pac-10 Championships begin Wednesday, March 2 in Long Beach.