Swimmers Race Past GCU and UIW in Sunday Smash

    SWIMMING & DIVING — Building off a smashing start to their season, the UCSD men’s and women’s swim and dive teams came out with confidence on Jan. 10 at Canyonview Pool, claiming victories over Grand Canyon University and the University of the Incarnate Word. The men’s team defeated GCU 197-84 and UIW 189-109; the women defeated GCU 229-54 and UIW 220-74.

    Despite their victories, head coach Scott McGihon said he still sees room for improvement in the teams’ mental preparedness.

    “One thing we need to work on — and we showed that today — is our mental focus,” head coach Scott McGihon said. “It’s not where it needs to be. The athletes are going to have to figure [out] that only they can make themselves focus mentally. That’s the missing component.”

    Despite their coach’s critique, the Tritons still pulled away with two solid victories over teams they may be facing again in the NCAA meet.

    “It feels good to get the win,” senior captain Andy Islip said. “We’re charging up for conference championship, and so every meet is just more practice. We’re fine-tuning our strokes and techniques and getting out all the kinks.”

    At the meet, the Tritons placed at least two swimmers in the top three spots over 16 races, winning 20 races overall. The victors included sophomore Alex Henley, who earned a NCAA-qualifying time of 2:05.77 in the 200-yard butterfly event.

    Sophomore diver Patrick Cohen qualified for the NCAA tournament in the one-meter diving event with his performance.

    “Getting to nationals feels amazing,” Cohen said. “This is everything I’ve been working toward. I feel like this year I was more focused. I just wanted to make nationals even more because I didn’t make nationals last year.”

    Many of the day’s races were contested down to the final stroke, but none more so than the men’s 50-yard freestyle. Senior Daniel Perdew, former Male Swimmer of the NCAA Champions Meet, set a season best in the race, but lost by two-hundredths of a second.

    In the Jan. 10 meet against Grand Canyon University and the University of the Incarnate Word, the UCSD swimming and diving team placed at least two swimmers in the top three spots over 16 events (Timothy Wong/Guardian).

    “The [50-yard freestyle] is always kind of an interesting race,” McGihon said. “It’s whoever hits their start and turn [who] is usually going to be the one who comes out winning the 50, and Perdew was a little slow off the blocks today.”

    However, more often than not, the Tritons came out on top in close races. Senior Jereme Barnett-Woods won the 500-yard freestyle by six-tenths of a second with a time of 4:41.13; sophomore Natasha Nguyen won the 200-yard freestyle (1:57.35) by less than a second; senior Todd Langland won the 100-yard freestyle (46.71) by one-tenths of a second and freshman Jon Masehi-Lano won the 200-yard breaststroke (2:07.65) by three seconds — despite being behind after the first 100 yards.

    Even with a strew of terrific finishes, junior captain Kyle Begovich said the Tritons know they still have areas to improve on before season-ending conference and NCAA championships roll around.

    “We have to be mentally strong,” he said. “Sometimes we race teams that are not as good, so we have to be mentally strong and compete at our level, even if it means we’re racing our own teammates and not the other team.”

    The Tritons face off against cross-town rival the University of San Diego on Jan. 16 at Canyonview Pool in a showdown for San Diego superiority.

    “Last year was a really close meet and we just barely won,” junior captain Anju Shimura said. “I know it’s going to be a good meet again, but hopefully we just work out hard this week and get through the workouts.”

    Despite its home victories, the team has to move on to mentally preparing for USD according to senior captain Cari Cunningham.

    “USD is another one of our big rivals,” she said. “So just like our meet yesterday, we have to focus on the day and forget about all the meets we’ve had in the past.”

    Readers can contact Tyler Nelson at [email protected].

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