Despite a spectacular season for both the UCSB men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, the Gauchos fell just short of attaining conference championships. As a result, the teams will look to the new recruiting class to fill the gaps that were missing last season.
The men finished sixth in the PAC-12 conference last season, while the women took second place in MPSF. With 20 freshmen entering the program next year, 10 men and 10 women, the Gauchos have significantly strengthened their areas of needs.
“We pretty much covered a lot of distances, a lot of events,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “These are kids that are finishing off really good high school careers and most of them will be high school All-Americans.”
With enough divers and sprint freestyle swimmers on the men’s team already, middle distance swimmers make up a large portion of Wilson’s recruiting class. Two backstroke swimmers, including Stephen Shilling, look to make an immediate impact in backstroke competitions as well as individual medley events.
Along with Shilling, the Gauchos will add one breaststroke swimmer and two butterfly swimmers to their class, including Mickey Mowry, whose toughness and training impressed Wilson. The top recruit for Santa Barbara is individual medley, backstroke and sprint freestyle swimmer, Josh Smith, from Edison High School in Huntington Beach.
“I think [Smith] is going to have a great college career,” Wilson said. “Physically, he’s long and lean; he’s a great kid and I think he is going to be a wonderful addition. I just think the kid is going to really erupt in college.”
A relatively young diving program kept the Gauchos from winning the Big West conference last season and was the clear weakness for the women’s team. Coach Wilson has addressed that area of need by recruiting four divers in his class of 10 women. With only three divers on last season’s roster, Wilson hopes to create more competition on the team with new divers such as Monika Terry, who took second place in her high school sectional championship.
“We needed to bring in a lot of new faces for our diving team,” Wilson said. “We have divers returning, but we needed more competition in the team. We’re very excited for their potential. The four divers coming in are really going to make a difference.”
With the loss of graduating senior Kendall Neely, the Gauchos addressed the sprint freestyle position with the addition of Marin County native Kimmie Kruezberger and Ally Tomkinson. Tomkinson is already familiar with the program since her older sister Katie also swims in freestyle competitions for UCSB. Tomkinson brings versatility to the team as her strengths are seen in breaststroke, butterfly, IM and middle distance events.
“We’re excited about the fact that we’re rebuilding our sprint freestyle group,” Wilson said. “These incoming women will add a great deal to what I think our sprint group will be. We’ve significantly strengthened our sprint freestyle.”
With a talented sophomore class led by Sophia Yamauchi and Andrea Ward slated to return next year, Wilson is more focused on making sure his new recruiting class adequately settles into the adjustments of college life.
“The role I see them playing is to acclimate to college life as soon as they can,” Wilson said. “Some of these kids are really good swimmers so their presence will be made really soon.”