Swimming and Diving Sets Sights on NCAA Titles

    Swimming and diving is the ultimate team sport. Both the men’s and the women’s sides are melded together, forming one huge team of over 50 swimmers and divers who not only compete together, but share the advising of eighth-year head coach Scott McGihon.

    The team rises and meets at the pool for 6 a.m. practice and then changes to head straight over to RIMAC to lift weights and, as senior women’s captain Emily Starkie puts it, “do all the dry land exercising.”

    Then it’s off to class and back into the pool at 4 p.m. for another two hours of practice. After the grueling day is over, the swimmers and divers head home to try to stay awake and finish homework.

    “It’s a tough day, but with the men and the women combined, there is an energy and intensity that is unmatched in any other sport,” Starkie said. “There’s a general enthusiasm and talent that meshes everyone together.”

    “We’re a tight-knit support group for one another,” senior men’s captain Jacob Dong said. “There is a really strong team atmosphere that makes us stronger.”

    The Triton men are coming off a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships; it was their third consecutive year finishing in the top five.

    “During the regular season we compete in Division I, which makes it tough,” McGihon said. “But we’re looking to win our conference for the first time in six years.”

    The team is comprised of 20 swimmers and divers, seven of whom are seniors — but Dong notes the talent of the incoming freshmen.

    “There’s been a lot of good rookie contention and it’s a great recruiting class,” he said. “I think we have a realistic chance of placing in the top three at the NCAA Championships this year.”

    The women’s swimming and diving team bested its male counterpart by finishing third at the NCAA Championships last year — its fourth consecutive year at that spot.

    “We’re not frustrated [by finishing third for four consecutive years], but we’re not content either,” McGihon said. “With 30 teams at the [NCAA] Championships, we’re happy to have that level of success, but we want to move up into the top two.”

    McGihon added that the team members have set high individual goals as well.

    “On the individual side, we’d like to continue our string of having at least one individual champion at nationals,” he said.

    Starkie, like her coach, expects that the teams will shoot up the rankings with such a talented rookie class.

    “We have our sights on winning the conference and placing in the top two at nationals,” she said.

    The women’s side is made up of 24 total swimmers and divers, 10 of them seniors.

    The teams’ first action can be caught at the Canyonview Pool in the Blue and Gold Meet on Oct. 14.

    “The Blue and Gold Meet involves the captains from both the men and women selecting their own teams and scoring based on performance,” McGihon said.

    The meet will surely bring out the best in the Triton swimmers and divers, as 12 UCSD swimming records fell just last year.

    “You’re going to see a high-quality program that’s routinely produced Olympic trial qualifiers and NCAA Champions,” McGihon said. “It should be exciting.”

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