Swimming strong in Speedo Cup

    UCSD men’s and women’s swimming teams both contributed solid performances at the 2001 Speedo Cup, held Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach.

    The women’s team, which finished with 514.5 points, took sixth in a field of 19 teams, many of them Division I programs. Rosanna Delurgio had the top showing among UCSD swimmers, taking fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:04.44) and eighth in the 200-meter breaststroke (2:21.71). Christine Hyjek finished fifth in the 400-meter individual medley and Jennifer Watanabe took sixth and eighth in the women’s 200-meter backstroke and 200-meter freestyle, respectively. The UCSD A teams took third in the 800-meter freestyle relay (07:43.65) and fifth in the 200-meter freestyle relay (01:37.62), while the UCSD B team took ninth in the 200-meter freestyle relay with a time of 1:39.22.

    Perennial Division I powerhouse Stanford took the team title with 1296.0 points, and Oregon State finished second with 962.0 points.

    “”I thought we did really well,”” head coach Scott McGihon said. “”We weren’t going for any team titles races; our concern was to qualify as many people at possible for the [National Collegiate Athletic Association]. Looking at the races from an individual standpoint though, we swam very well.””

    The men’s team had a strong outing as well, finishing eighth out of 16 teams with 449.0 points. Devin Spicer placed the highest among Triton swimmers, taking fifth in the 1650-meter freestyle with a time of 16:04.28.

    Rob Small also had a strong outing, placing seventh in the 200-meter breaststroke (2:08.03) and 11th in the 100-meter breaststroke (0:58.53). The UCSD men’s teams in the 800-meter freestyle relay (6:56.95) and 400-meter medley relay (3:30.28) finished ninth and 10th, respectively.

    Stanford claimed a team championship on the men’s side as well, easily outdistancing itself from runner-up Brigham Young University, 1610 to 1055.5 points.

    “”We didn’t really know what to expect,”” McGihon said. “”We didn’t know where everyone would be, but everyone did swim well and as a team we were really together. Obviously we’re not going to be Stanford, but we really don’t compare ourselves to other programs. But it is good to see our swimmers swim at that caliber instead of swimming at a level down from us. It brings out the best in our athletes.””

    Luke Seed, who placed eighth in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke, said that competing against the Division I schools helped the team take their performance to another level.

    “”The Division I teams made it a different meet than we were used to,”” Seed said. “”They really make you swim faster. You might not always beat or come close to them, but it really helps your own performance.””

    The team has since been logging many hours of practice at Canyonview Pool.

    “”We swim twice a day, three hours each time, for 12 days after finals end,”” Seed said. “”We have nine days off this year, and we get back and swim from the 30th until school starts. It’s mostly mental — you get over the physical part eventually. You want to go home and want to do other stuff, but you do it for the team.””

    This rigid training program has been going on for years at UCSD, but one that has helped the team become more close-knit, according to McGihon.

    “”Basically it’s a tradition we’ve established at UCSD — it’s the period of time where we break everyone down physiologically and, to a certain extent, psychologically,”” McGihon said. “”What we’re doing is eating, sleeping and swimming. It’s a good bonding experience and we saw the team grow closely.””

    According to Seed, such a demanding schedule is at times exhausting but not unbearable, thanks to camaraderie that the team has developed.

    “”You have to deal with it,”” Seed said. “”But we’re a big family. We get along really well — it makes it a lot of fun. You can overlook the fact that everyone else is at home doing other stuff. When you’re around people that much, when you do go home you miss them and you look forward to going back and swimming.””

    The men’s team currently has an 0-3 dual meet record, with losses to Division I University of the Pacific, defending Division II national champions California State University Bakersfield, as well as UC Davis. The women’s team, among the preseason favorites to win the national title, stands with a 3-1 record, with dual meet wins over Boston College, UC Davis and CSU Bakersfield.

    Its only loss of the season came against the University of the Pacific.

    “”With swimming, our win-loss column isn’t as important to us as our national and conference meets,”” McGihon said. “”We have to qualify for nationals individually, but once we get to nationals, that will be the big thing.””

    According to McGihon, so far the team has qualified two men and 15 women for the NCAA Division II Championships in Orlando, Fla., March 13-16.

    “”What I hope to see are several men qualify for NCAAs,”” McGihon said. “”I expect to take 18 women to NCAAs. [And] in terms of where we’re going to finish in NCAAs, the top five for men’s and top two for women’s. We’re also looking to break school records on both sides, [by] just trying to improve our times.””

    Meanwhile, the Tritons still have ample opportunity to qualify swimmers, with dual meets against UC Irvine and UCLA in the next few weeks as well as the Pacific Collegiate Conference Swim Championships in February.

    However, national titles are not the only thing on the swimmers’ minds.

    “”I’d really like to get more than 10 guys going to nationals, but really what I hope is that everyone swims up to their expectations,”” Seed said. “”Nationals are great and all, but when it comes down to it, if you’re not satisfied with your performance, there’s no reason to swim.””

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