After four days of competition in the Pac-12 Swimming Championships held in Monterey Park, the UCSB men’s swim team was unable to improve on last year’s performance, finishing in sixth place again with 251.5 points, while Stanford laid claim to the conference championship for the 31st time in a row, winning with 939.5 points.
“We were hoping to score higher, I think we all performed really well,” senior captain Kevin Ferguson said. “I think we made another step to succeed in [the Pac-12] conference … I think everyone is going to be really happy with the way things turned out.”
UCSB ended the first day with 54 points after a seventh place finish in the 200-yard medley relay and a fourth-place finish in the 800-yard relay. The 800-yard relay team of seniors Chris Peterson, Garrett Thompson, Ferguson and sophomore Lucas Norman broke the previous school record, touching the wall in 6:24.55, shaving 5.51 seconds off the previous record.
“We beat our time from last year by five and a half seconds, which is a huge drop,” Ferguson said. “We were pretty happy with the performance, and I think we all had very good individual splits within the relay.”
The senior men on the team stepped up big on the second day of competition. Ferguson, Peterson and Thompson carried the Gauchos to a fourth-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:18.54.
Earlier in the evening, Peterson had the best finish for a Gaucho in an individual event, with a time of 19.90 in the 50-yard freestyle, good enough for a fifth-place finish. Santa Barbara did not fare as well in the other events, having no top 10 finishes in the 500-yard freestyle or the 200-yard IM.
Sophomore Randy Aakhus had the best finish of any Gaucho swimmer on the third day of the championships, taking seventh place in the 400-yard IM with a time of 3:51.06. Aakhus then anchored the 400-yard medley relay to sixth place to finish the night.
“I was pretty excited, it was nice having my entire team back me up,” Aakhus said. “I didn’t really know what I was going to do … it was something different, and I guess I just swam super fast.”
On the final day of competition, UCSB stood at seventh place with 164.5 points. Giving the Gauchos their best performance ever in the Pac-12 Championships, Peterson finished third in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 43.27, breaking the school record, which he had set himself.
The performance, however, was a little too late as the Gauchos could not overcome the Cardinal’s freshman David Nolan, who won six events in the four days and was crowned Swimmer of the Meet.
“Overall, we did really well as a team … It all comes down to this one meet and that’s where you get your payday,” Aakhus said. “It was really rewarding to be there and feeling all the electricity from everybody. I’m super proud.”