Sole Gaucho swimmer Andrea Ward competed in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly swims in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the NCAA championships on March 20-22. Ward placed fourth in the 100-yard butterfly and 14th in the 200-yard butterfly.
While competition began Thursday, Ward did not enter the pool until Friday morning where she was set to compete in the preliminaries of the 100-yard butterfly. She came in with a top seed time of 51.76, but would go on to put up a blistering time of 51.58 to qualify sixth in the preliminaries and earn a spot in the A-finals.
The finals of the women’s 100-yard butterfly took place Friday evening and Ward would not disappoint. She finished with a time of 51.47, setting a school record and earning fourth in the NCAA championships.
“I am very happy for Andrea and impressed with how she is swimming here,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “She is swimming so well right now, she could do just about anything she wants.”
Out of a pool of 59 competing swimmers, Ward was only to be outdone by freshman Marne Erasmus of Southern Methodist, sophomore Kelsi Worrell of Louisville and senior Felicia Lee of Stanford, who would take first in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 50.89.
On the final day of competition, Ward swam both the preliminaries and the finals of the 200-yard butterfly. She entered the preliminaries with a top seed time of 1:55.79 and would go on to put up a preliminary time of 1:56.29, which notched her a 16th seed and a spot in the B-final by just under two-tenths of a second.
Ward would use the finals to improve upon her preliminary standing. She finished the finals of the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:57.24 and earned a 14th-place finish out of a total of 49 competing swimmers.
Senior Cammile Adams out of Texas A&M took the top spot in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:52.25, followed by senior Maya DiRado of Stanford with a time of 1:52.99 and senior Lindsay Gendron of Tennessee with a time of 1:53.05.
Ward’s performance in the NCAA championships earned her All-American honors and her fourth place finish in the 100-yard butterfly was the highest finish by a Gaucho swimmer since 2008 when sophomore Anne Marie May finished third in the 50-yard freestyle.
While UCSB finished the competition with 18 points and a 35th-place finish, this competition was focused on Ward. She gave the Gauchos the performances they were looking for and proved once again that UCSB is able to compete on the highest level.
“I’m very proud of the way the women swam this season,” Wilson said. “Our seniors have come through for us all year and I could not be happier.”
Additionally, the UCSB swim and dive team was awarded Scholar All American honors for the student athletes work in the classroom. The NCAA championships mark the end of the season for Gaucho swimming and diving. It also marks the end to the storied career of Ward.
UCSB finished second in the MPSF this season behind the strong swimming of Ward. Ward was named the MPSF Swimmer of the Year after a remarkable senior season which included a fourth place finish this weekend along with All-American honors.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of March 31, 2014’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo courtesy of UCSB Athletics.