Five swimmers take their last dives at UCSD

    After a triumphant 2004 season, the UCSD swim team bid farewell to five athletes who contributed their dedication and leadership to making the Tritons faster and more successful.

    Carolyn Kwok, who will graduate with a degree in management science, earned the NCAA title of Academic All-American this season. Successfully juggling the demands of school, work and training, Kwok won the team’s academic award for the highest GPA in her class four years in a row.

    Kwok finished her swimming career as a UCSD champion and national record holder in the 200-yard freestyle relay. According to Kwok, being a part of that undefeated relay was one of her most valued experiences on the team.

    Kwok is one of the best sprinters in UCSD history, holding the fifth position on the team’s all-time top-10 list in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 23.97 seconds.

    As captain for two years, Kwok had considerable influence on the team. Leading through her actions, Kwok was a hard worker in practice and one of the most spirited on deck. Head coach Scott McGihon described her as “a quiet but good leader for the team.”

    Denise Bogard also earned Academic All-American honors this season. After graduating in June with a degree in chemical engineering, she will enter the doctoral program in fluid dynamics at UC Santa Barbara.

    Bogard had many athletic accomplishments at UCSD. She was the NCAA National Champion in the 200-yard individual medley this year, in addition to placing in the top-five in both breaststroke events. In the UCSD record books, Bogard holds the second-best 200-yard individual medley time of 2:04.75, the second-best 100-yard breaststroke time of 1:02.41 and the third-best 200-yard breaststroke time at 2:18.18.

    Bogard is also a winner of the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, which is given to athletes who have demonstrated academic and athletic superiority and who have been involved in community service.

    “I think Denise is what every UCSD student-athlete should aspire to be,” McGihon said. “And I realize that’s a pretty strong statement.”

    The third swimmer to leave the women’s team has had a different experience than the average UCSD swimmer. Because of serious injury and illness, Hannah Foster was unable to swim for the greater part of three of her four years on the team.

    Foster was determined to stay involved and build a role for herself as a member of the team. She attended practices even when she could not train, helped the coaches on deck and came to every meet during her senior year to cheer.

    “It’s so important for us to work as a unit, so when I couldn’t actually do what everyone else was doing, I had to find new ways to contribute,” Foster said. “It would have been really easy to just give up and walk away from it this year, but I felt like I would have let the team down.”

    While Foster supported the team, her teammates reciprocated throughout her illnesses.

    “No matter how bad I felt, it was always a pick-me-up to be with my teammates,” Foster said. “My time here was less about the actual swimming — although I do love the sport — and more about the people I was with.”

    Foster is majoring in interdisciplinary computing and the arts and will graduate halfway through the 2004-05 academic school year.

    On the men’s side, a veteran and a newcomer who were both key to the men’s success this year are leaving the team. Captain Rob Small has been a collegiate swimmer for four years and has helped make UCSD a breaststroke powerhouse, while John Pearce, a transfer student, was only on the team for three months, but greatly improved UCSD’s showing in the distance freestyle events.

    Small earned second place in both breaststroke events at the NCAA Championships this season. He holds the second-best time in UCSD history in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:03.56, and the third-best time in the 100-yard breaststroke at 56.53.

    His new leadership position this year inspired Small to work harder and realize his full potential.

    “When I was elected captain, it put pressure on me because I felt more accountable for the team,” Small said. “Not only did I want to do well in my last season, but I also felt that other people might be looking to me to go fast.”

    Small credits younger swimmers with pushing him to give his best effort in training. According to McGihon, however, the motivation worked both ways.

    “[Small] turned out to be a tremendous leader for the team, both in action and in word,” McGihon said. “He helped mentor the freshmen athletes.”

    Small will earn his psychology degree next fall.

    Pearce, a political science major, transferred to UCSD from Grossmont College in San Diego last fall. After playing water polo and swimming at Grossmont, Pearce decided to use his last quarter of eligibility to compete in the second half of the season at UCSD.

    “I would like to thank my UCSD coaches for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to be a part of the 2004 Tritons,” Pearce said.

    The coaches’ gamble paid off when Pearce placed eighth in three events at the NCAA Championships. His time in the 1,000-yard freestyle, 9:30.16, made the record books as the second-fastest in UCSD history, and his time in the 200-yard freestyle, 1:41.74, was sixth fastest in the UCSD books.

    When asked what they would miss most, each senior said that they would miss being a part of a group of friends that was so close it was almost like a family.

    “It’s an awesome feeling to know that 50 other people share in your goals and dreams and are there to back you up no matter what,” Foster said.

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