Swim Team Opens Strong at USC Invitational

Last weekend the UCSD men’s and women’s swim teams held their own against very tough competition at the USC Invitational at McDonald’s Swim Stadium at the University of Southern California.

“”[Our team’s performance] was very good,”” said head swim coach Scott McGihon. “”Especially considering how broken down and tired we are.””

The invitational, which began on Friday and ended Saturday, included teams from UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, California State University Northridge and Cal State Bakersfield. Also competing were club teams from Mission Viejo, Industry Hills, Irvine and Pasadena.

“”All the teams were very good,”” McGihon said. “”There wasn’t a single team that was a doormat everyone could step on.””

While the men and women had no individual winners, the women had several finishers in the top five.

Jennifer Watanabe, who was named NCAA Swimmer of the Year last year as a freshman, led the Tritons with top five finishes in three events. She placed fifth out of 38 in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:36.41, fifth out of 91 in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:55.22, and fifth out of 41 in the 200-yard backstroke in 2:07.34.

Junior Sandra Lopez also swam well for UCSD, netting a fourth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:06.63, and a second-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke in a blazing 2:21.59.

Along with Watanabe and Lopez, junior Lindsey Meeks also swam well enough to qualify for the NCAA championships.

The UCSD women had a strong showing in the 100-yard freestyle competition, with Samantha Wong coming in eighth out of 93 entrants, and Carolyn and Evelyn Kwok placing seventh and ninth, respectively. The women’s 200-yard medley relay teams also had a strong effort with a fourth-place finish and a time of 1:51.50.

The USC relay team won the event with a time of 1:47.09.

On the men’s side, sophomore Luke Seed stood out for the Tritons, earning a ninth-place finish out of 47 in the 100-yard butterfly with a 52.36 and seventh-place out of 37 in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 58.67.

McGihon also praised the efforts of senior and team captain Rusty Jones, who came in 18th in the 100-yard backstroke event and senior Ryan Wong, who earned 13th place in the 200-yard backstroke.

“”There were some surprising efforts,”” McGihon said. “”Especially considering the fact that not all swimmers were swimming in their best events.””

The young men and women Triton swim teams, each boasting only three seniors, are looking for strong efforts from their swimmers this year.

“”Our team goal is for everyone to achieve a lifetime best this season,”” McGihon said.

The women’s team is especially youthful this year, as it lost seven seniors to graduation. McGihon also expects the teams to do as well as they can in the NCAA championship with several top five finishes.

While pleased with his teams’ efforts so far, McGihon cites relay starts and turns, as well as overall speed, as the main areas in need of improvement for the Tritons.

“”However I’m very happy with how things are progressing,”” he said. “”These things just come with time.””

Both the men and women will have to demonstrate their skills next Friday in the UCSD Alumni meet.