Sunday, December 2, 2007

UCSB swimmers excel at Husky Invitational


In a field that included eight top 25 teams, the UC Santa Barbara men’s and women’s swimming teams pulled out top five finishes at the University of Washington’s Husky Invitational, breaking school records and earning NCAA berths along the way.
“It was a really good meet,” Coach Gregg Wilson said by phone from Federal Way, Wash. “So good that we’re going to come back next year. … We accomplished a lot of what we came up here for.”

The women’s team finished in fourth place behind No. 21 USC, Washington and Notre Dame, while the men beat out No. 24 Hawaii to take fifth place behind No. 4 Michigan, No. 11 UC Berkeley, No. 16 USC and Washington.
“That was with only 12 men and 12 women,” senior Brooks Felton said. “Most of the other teams had about 20 swimmers.”
Freshman standout Sara Nicponski led the Gauchos squad with two automatic NCAA qualifying times and school records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events with times 1:01.56 and 2:13.63, swimming in the same pool where the NCAA Championships will be held in March.
“She’s coming in with some pretty good credentials,” Wilson said, explaining that the Salt Lake City native had the fastest time in the 100 breaststroke among all high school seniors last year and already has Olympic Trials qualifying times.
Sophomore Matt Bartlett had a breakout meet on the men’s side, taking home a NCAA consideration time for a personal-best time of 1:48.53 in the 200 individual medley. He also set a school record in the 200 freestyle (1:37.67), beating out sophomore Scott Vogelgesang’s mark, set last year, by less than a tenth of a second.
The women’s relay teams also snapped four school records, taking first place in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays and second place in the 200 and 400 medley relays.
“Everyone swam really, really fast,” junior Nadia Dwidar said. “I did pretty well. I was on both of the free relays and got a best time in the 50 [freestyle] by just a little bit.”
Sophomore Anne Marie May also stood out with NCAA consideration times in the 50 and 100 freestyle races, winning the 50 free and placing a close second in the 100 free.
During a deck-entry, long-course time trial Sunday, Vogelgesang and junior Bradley Matsumoto secured Olympic Trials qualifying times in the 100 and 50 freestyle events, respectively.
“Those were probably the two biggest swims for [Sunday],” Felton said.
Coach Wilson also highlighted the Gauchos performance in the men’s 200 butterfly, with former Gaucho swimmer Pat Cary swimming unattached and taking first, while three other Gauchos made the top eight.
“Pat Cary went 1:44 low and that was unshaved,” Wilson said, adding that Bartlett notched a third-place finish in 1:45.99, an NCAA consideration time.
“A bunch of guys rested and everyone shaved for the most part,” Felton said. “It was sort of a good precursor to conference meets and possibly NCAAs. It sort of helps the coaches see how we stand for the season.”
After a two-week break, the Gauchos will return to the pool at the UNLV Winter Invite in Las Vegas, the three-day meet beginning December 15. Then, following a quick, eight-day winter break, the team will be back at practice, preparing for a tough USC team on January 12.
“I really think that the kids at home … know how fast we are swimming up here and they know how fast they are going to swim,” Coach Wilson said. “They are really psyched.”

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