The UC Santa Barbara women’s and men’s swimming teams kicked off their season against the California Polytechnic State University Mustangs on Oct. 8. Each team started out the season on the right foot and was able to sweep the Mustangs on the day of the meet, putting up a combined score of 378-204.
The women dominated in the pool, with freshman newcomer Isabella Martinez-Spencer taking home the distance races of 500-yard freestyle and 1000-yard freestyle.
The women continued their excellent swimming in the shorter distances races, sweeping the podium in the 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke, 200-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly. Even more impressive was the Gauchos finishing in the top 4 in three of these four races.
Freshman Hazel Derr put up an impressive performance, finishing second in the 100-yard backstroke and first in the 200-yard backstroke. Freshman Samantha Banos nearly beat out her teammate, sophomore Tyryn Empremsilapa in the 100-yard butterfly, but blew away the competition in the 200-yard butterfly, leading the second-place competitor by seven seconds.
The relay teams performed well as the 400-yard freestyle relay ended with the Gauchos taking the top two spots. The 200-yard medley relay saw the same success for the Gauchos as the women swept the top three positions.
The men picked up right where the women left off, sweeping a majority of the podiums. Of the 12 events featuring the Gaucho men, they were able to sweep the podium in eight of the events.
Sophomore Austin Sparrow finished atop the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle events, while sophomore Matthew Driscoll finished in first place in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke.
The 100-yard butterfly featured two Gauchos atop the podium as sophomore Justin Wong and senior Dominic Falcon tied with a time of 49.65.
In the 200-yard medley relay, the Gauchos performed excellently, posting top three with their A, B and C teams.
In the 200-yard backstroke, sophomore Kyle Brill posted a five-second victory over the second-place finisher, junior Sean Keegan. In the 100-yard backstroke, he posted a respectable second place finishing less than a second behind Driscoll.
Senior Alec Cullen was another Gaucho with a nice performance in the pool, posting a first-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard breaststroke.
This meet was a promising sign for the Gauchos as they swept the Mustangs in their 2021 season. Falcon and Cullen picked up where they began last season, taking victories against the Mustangs in each of the last two seasons.
The team of Sparrow, Driscoll, Wong and junior Sean Gutowski finished with a time of 3:03.26 in the 400-yard freestyle, besting the Mustang’s A team by 05:40 seconds. This was one of the top performances for the Gauchos, off of the national 2021 NCAA winner by 13 seconds.
Driscoll’s 50-yard freestyle time of 21.07 is less than three seconds off of the 2021 national champion Ryan Hoffer. At the same time, Sparrow is under five seconds off of Hoffer’s national time in the 2021 100-yard freestyle.
On the women’s side, freshman Nina Statler is just above three seconds off of the 2021 champion with a time of 23.54 in the 50-yard freestyle. One of the biggest margins of victory came in the 400-yard freestyle relay with the women finishing with a time of 3:39.45, compared to the 2021 national time of 3:09.78.
The Gauchos hope to build off this performance in the California State University Bakersfield Roadrunner Sprint Invitational, beginning Oct. 14 and ending Oct. 15.
A version of this article appeared on p. 7 of the October 20, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.