By EVA HOFFMAN

    Although the UCSD swimmers, for the most part, failed to top UCLA’s powerhouse team, many of them had solid times. In the 400 individual medley, junior Christine Hyjek swam 4:34.07, one of her five best times ever. Freshman Susan Bell also came close to a personal best in that event, clocking in at 4:37.49, only three tenths of a second off her fastest time.

    David Ung
    Guardian file

    In the middle of the season, it is difficult for swimmers to match their fastest times when their muscles are tired and broken down from intensive training. Before important meets, swimmers usually taper, or gradually ease up on training over a period of several weeks. This period of rest enables them to swim their fastest times. It is quite a feat for a swimmer to come close to a personal best without tapering.

    The team’s co-captains, senior Carolyn Kwok and Hyjek, felt swimming against some of the fastest women from Division I was a good opportunity for themselves and their teammates. Even though they scored fewer points against UCLA than they did against the University of Utah on Jan. 10, Hyjek said, “”We performed better this week overall than last week.””

    Kwok agreed.

    “”I think that swimming against such a great team makes us push ourselves to be that much better,”” she said.

    After the meet against UCLA, the women’s dual meet record is 3-4. Although UCSD has struggled in its last few meets, all of which were against Division I teams, the team has performed well against Division II teams this season and hopes to win the NCAA Championships in May.

    One of UCSD’s proven strengths is its depth. Often, a team has one or two outstanding swimmers who win all their races, but no solid base of athletes who earn points. UCSD, on the other hand, not only has Delurgio, who is currently ranked first for NCAAs in both breaststroke events, but also a number of women who have qualified for NCAAs in multiple events.

    Among these qualifiers are standout swimmers Kwok, Hyjek, freshman Emily Harlan and freshman Monica Becks. Kwok, a sprinter, has earned automatic qualification times in the 50-yard freestyle and the 200-yard freestyle relay. She also has a consideration qualification in the 100-yard freestyle.

    While Kwok is looking forward to swimming on the relay at the NCAA Championships and expects to do best in that event, she hopes to swim the 50-yard freestyle in under 24 seconds and the 100-yard freestyle in under 53 seconds.

    This is the first year that Kwok has received an automatic qualification in an individual event. She has improved her time in the 50-yard by working hard to perfect her freestyle technique. Kwok’s goal has been to catch more water with each pull.

    “”I’ve really tried to make a conscious effort during each practice to work on it, and I feel like it’s made my stroke a lot stronger than it used to be,”” Kwok said.

    According to head coach Scott McGihon, her extra effort has paid off.

    “”She is having the best season of her life,”” he said.

    Kwok’s fellow sprinter Harlan also qualified in both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyles. She has consideration qualifications in the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke. In addition, she is likely to swim in four relays.

    “”My goal for the rest of the season is simply to train hard and give everything I’ve got at [Pacific Conference Championships] and NCAAs,”” Harlan said.

    Although she is only a freshman, Harlan has already set two individual and two relay records. McGihon thinks she has a lot of potential.

    “”She’s just going to keep getting better. I think she will establish herself as the dominant sprinter in Division II,”” he said.

    Also looking forward to her first experience at NCAA Championships is freshman freestyler Becks. Becks has an automatic qualification in the 800-yard freestyle relay, as well as consideration times in the 50-yard, the 100-yard, the 200-yard, and the 500-yard freestyles.

    This year, Becks has swum lifetime bests in all the above freestyle events.

    “”Monica is having what I would characterize as a breakthrough season,”” McGihon said. “”She’s still discovering how fast she can truly be.””

    Her specialties are the 200-yard individual medley and the 400-yard individual medley, events in which she has automatic qualification times. She also has consideration qualifications in the 200-yard butterfly and the 200-yard breaststroke.

    Teammate Hyjek looks to improve this year after a difficult finish last season.

    “”She has really rebounded from what I think she would agree was a really disappointing NCAAs last year,”” McGihon said.

    This year, Hyjek hopes to place in the top eight in both individual medley events at NCAAs.

    These four women and their teammates are all looking ahead to the NCAA Championships as the season draws to a close. The only meets left before the NCAA Championships are two dual meets and the Pacific Conference Championships.

    The next dual meet will be against the University of San Diego on Jan. 24. UCSD will host the match at Canyonview Pool, and the first race is at noon.

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