Upset Bid Falls Short Against UCSB

SWIMMING & DIVING — The UCSD swimming and diving teams fell to UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 13 in a highly competitive away meet where the Triton men’s and women’s teams lost 155-96 and 144-112, respectively.

The meet marked a distinct improvement from last year’s competition at Santa Barbara, where the Tritons’ Division-I opponents cruised to crushing 177.5-75.5 and 152-109 victories.

“We have made really good strides in terms of comparing the two programs,” head coach Scott McGihon said. “This year, the gap was narrowed considerably and the results demonstrated that.”

In particular — on both the men’s and women’s side — the Tritons were buoyed by the strong performance of their distance swimmers. For the men, senior Jereme Barnett-Woods won the 1,000-meter freestyle event with a time of 9:42:84, and placed second in the 500-meter freestyle heat with a time of 4:42.33.

His results are the latest in a string of impressive times for Barnett-Woods — a transfer from the University of Washington — whose time of 9:35.43 in the 1,000-meter freestyle event against Texas Christian University on Nov. 6 ranks him No. 2 at the Division-II national level.

“I’m very pleased with my results so far,” Barnett-Woods said. “The 9:35:43 time and the 1,000 freestyle are my season bests. UCSB is a D-I school; they are tough to compete with, and I think we did a good job.”

The Triton women were equally dominant in their distance events, as sophomore Alex Henley broke the current Division-II record in the 500-meter freestyle event with a winning time of 4:59.00. UCSD was also boosted by a trio of underclassman swimmers: Freshman Bethany Dong and sophomores Natasha Nguyen and Megan Thomas placed second, fourth and fifth respectively.

“The distance athletes did an exceptional job this weekend,” McGihon said. “In terms of our mid-distance programs, we are in an up year. We’re getting better, and confidence level is rising with the more races we swim.”

McGihon knows the team will need confidence heading into the team’s next meet: the highly competitive Toshiba Classic. Hosted by UCSD but held in Long Beach, Calif., the three-day meet will begin on Nov. 19 and feature some of the highest-caliber swim programs on the West Coast.

“With the likes of Berkeley and Stanford competing, we’ll definitely see some high-level swimming,” McGihon said.

On the men’s side, the Tritons will compete against 13 teams, including the Stanford men’s team, which finished third at last year’s Division-I National Championships. Additionally, UCSD will face Pacific Collegiate Swimming Conference rivals Cal Baptist University, Chapman University, Soka University of America and Seattle University.

The women’s competitors are no less daunting. The Triton swimmers will be competing in a field of 26 different teams, highlighted by defending national champion UC Berkeley and several perennial top-50 programs like Stanford, Hawaii and UCLA. UCSD’s in-conference rivals Cal Baptist, Chapman, Soka, Alaska Fairbanks, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine will also be competing at the Classic.

Coming into the Toshiba Classic, the Triton men’s and women’s teams boast impressive season records to date, and collectively hold seven top times across the Division-II national level.

McGihon said he views this upcoming meet as yet another opportunity for the Tritons to improve.

“We want to be swimming against the best teams and best individuals as much as we can, so we can swim our best now … and toward the end of the season,” McGihon said. “Swimming against the highest level of competition will help us reach those goals.”

Barnett-Woods echoed his coach’s sentiment, saying he had high expectations for himself and his teammates coming into the Toshiba Classic.

“I expect most of the team to be at or [setting their] personal best times,” Barnett-Woods said. “I’m expecting myself to beat my times and make the NCAA A-Cup. Since we have such strong competition like Stanford and Cal, it will help us push ourselves to be our best.”

The Tritons look to continue the pursuit of personal records and team success against the likes of Stanford and Cal in the Toshiba Classic from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21 at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach, Calif.

Readers can contact Vishal Natarajan at [email protected].