UCSD swimming will lose five athletes to graduation

    With the close of the 2002-03 season, the UCSD men and women’s swimming and diving teams lose five graduating seniors who were valuable participants and leaders. This June, co-captains Dagart Allison and Luca Brammer say goodbye to the men’s team. Captain Jennifer Watanabe, Samantha Wong and diver Emily Quon leave the women’s team.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    Allison’s swimming career at UCSD got off to a rocky start when he accidentally slept through his first Saturday morning workout and almost got cut from the team as a result; but he quickly reversed that bad first impression. UCSD head coach Scott McGihon now says that Allison is “”a tremendously hard worker.””

    From start to finish, Allison was a stellar swimmer, qualifying for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships every year. Freestyle was Allison’s forte. But beyond earning points for UCSD, Allison was an excellent captain, fostering team spirit and encouraging other swimmers.

    “”He took it upon himself to lead the team in cheers,”” McGihon said. “”In doing so, he really motivated a lot of people. He’s really going to be missed both for his leadership and his work ethic.””

    Allison put everything he had into swimming this past season, making it his first priority. Even though he cannot compete any longer, it is clear that his heart is still with the team.

    “”Leaving UCSD swimming is something that I wish I did not have to do. Every time I see my teammates, I wish I still had the chances they have to improve and compete with such good friends,”” Allison said.

    Allison’s co-captain Brammer, a mechanical engineering major, also started swimming as a first-year, but experienced a roller-coaster ride of injury and recovery during the rest of his sports career at UCSD.

    As a freshman, he did well swimming the 100- and 200-yard butterfly and the 200-yard individual medley. During his sophomore year, however, Brammer dislocated his shoulder seven times and had to have a surgery.

    Because his surgeons hit a nerve in his shoulder, Brammer’s arm was basically disabled for over a year. In the 18 months that he was unable to swim, Brammer “”was able to give the team a lot of guidance and a lot of support,”” McGihon said.

    Determined to compete in his final year, Brammer began working out again. He participated on the team through December 2002, then his doctor told him he had to stop swimming permanently or risk further damage to his shoulder.

    Despite the fact that Brammer could only race from time to time throughout his four years at UCSD, he continued to give his support to the swimmers and act as an “”administrative captain.”” His dedication to the team will be missed.

    With the departure of Watanabe and Wong, the women’s swim team loses two inspiring leaders. The two women started swimming at the same time their first year and became close friends. They have mutual respect and admiration for each other.

    “”She’s an All-American swimmer in the sense that she can swim whatever she wants and do really well,”” Wong said of Watanabe.

    Watanabe, a team captain, displayed an ability to succeed in many events. Her best events were the 100- and 200-yard backstroke, but she also had eight school records and was a nine-time national champion. Her individual records include the 100-yard backstroke (56.86), the 200-yard backstroke (2:00.61), the 200-yard individual medley (2:04.41), the 400-yard individual medley (4:22.68) and the 200-yard freestyle (1:49.69). Watanabe brought other skills to the pool deck besides her natural talent for swimming.

    “”Her contribution to the team goes way beyond her swimming ability,”” McGihon said. “”Her leadership is what is going to be missed most next year.””

    Wong, too, was highly involved in the leadership of the athletic community at UCSD as president of the Triton Athletic Council this past year. In the water, Wong had a difficult and variable swimming career. During her freshman and sophomore years, her primary events were the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke. Her sophomore year brought a shoulder injury that impeded her improvement. In the last two years, she changed her focus and started to swim the 100- and 200-yard freestyle most often. McGihon said that Wong’s greatest strength was her ability to perform well in a team setting.

    “”One thing about Samantha was you could always count on her in a relay,”” he said.

    Wong had three school records in the 400- and 800-yard freestyle relays and in the 400 medley relay.

    The supportive friendships that they formed with other members of the team seemed to be most important to both women. Watanabe thanked Wong for “”being there”” for her throughout the past four years. Both expressed regret that they will be leaving so many close friends when they stop swimming after this year.

    Watanabe has completed her four years of sports eligibility, but she will remain at UCSD for one more year to finish her double major in math and computer science. Wong will graduate as an interdisciplinary computing and arts major with a management science minor in June.

    Emily Quon, a psychology major, participated on the diving team for two years. She excelled on the one-meter board, but was strong on the three-meter board as well.

    According to diving coach Jessica Pilger, one of Quon’s greatest traits was perseverance. If she had a poor entrance on a dive and smacked the water, she would get back up and try again. Pilger also said that Quon was “”a great person to coach.””

    Entire team participation and group activities made diving more enjoyable for Quon.

    “”Meets that were the funnest were the ones when the whole team was there,”” she said.

    Quon also said that when she leaves, she will miss the other divers, who she has grown close to over the past two years.

    All the graduates from the swimming team remarked on the camaraderie between the swimmers. Unlike other sports or schools where the men’s and the women’s teams are entirely separate, the UCSD men and women built strong bonds of friendship during their shared workouts. Several graduates said that their experience on the team was like being part of a close-knit family.

    “”You always had time to be with your teammates,”” Wong said. “”You eat, you sleep, you swim — it’s a big cycle and you all just kind of do it together.””

    Brammer spoke passionately about the things that he misses since he has stopped swimming.

    “”I miss how you feel when you finish a really hard workout and your whole body is sore,”” Brammer said. “”I miss going home and just passing out from being so tired. I miss being with people so much that you are more like siblings than just friends. I miss seeing people do amazing things in practice when you wouldn’t expect it. Most of all, I miss the mental struggle that would go on every day at practice during a hard set when you want to just stop and throw up, but — for some reason — you don’t.””

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