UCSD Makes Impressive Season Debut

Clay Kaufman

The UCSD swim and dive teams easily handled the visiting Claremont Colleges this Saturday, winning the season opener against the Harvey Mudd Stags and Scripps Athenas for the seventh straight year. Both men and women dominated, with the men winning 178–117 and the women 182–111 with 26 out of 28 races going in the Tritons’ favor.

Photo by Megan Lao/Guardian

“Honestly, I feel that for the first meet of the year, we are swimming really, really well,” UCSD women’s head coach Corrie Falcon said. “The amount of people that got in-season bests this early really shows that they put in some good work this summer, and they’re ready to go early on.”

Amidst a day full of extraordinary performances, none were more outstanding than the efforts of junior captain Paul Li. He won the 200 freestyle (1:42.71), the 500 freestyle (4:43.17) and the 200 individual medley (1:57.46) to lead all competitors with three individual victories.

Senior Adam Springer was the first Triton to qualify for the Division-II NCAA Championship, scoring 303.97 points in the three-meter, beating the minimum standard by over eight points.

On the women’s side, junior Naomi Thomas won both butterfly distances (56.85, 2:05.50). Sophomore Jaimie Bryan won the 100 breaststroke (1:05.41) and the 200 individual medley (2:09.93), narrowly defeating her senior teammate Eva Chen in the breaststroke by 0.4 seconds. Chen responded in the 200 breaststroke, taking first place with (1:05.45), Bryan trailing just 0.9 seconds behind her.

“I definitely continue the good dual meets, the times that I am having and for the A3 meet,” Chen said. “I want to be able to get myself in higher ranking with the times I have and hopefully get myself to Nationals and definitely continue that throughout conference.”

The men’s breaststroke races produced similar results, with Triton teammates edging each other out by a hair. Junior AJ Zavala (58.27) finished less than a second earlier than sophomore Zachary Yong (58.59) in the 100 breaststroke. The 200 breaststroke would again be neck and neck; however, this time with Yong (2:06.41) finishing 0.4 seconds ahead of Zavala (2:06.45).

The freshmen made their first appearance for the Tritons in the pool and did not disappoint. After her impressive performance at the Blue vs. Gold Scrimmage last week, Stephanie Sin continued her strong start to her college career, winning the 200 freestyle (1:53.33) and the 500 freestyle (5:05.11). Freshman Julia Toronczak also had a memorable debut, sweeping the backstroke races with times of 58.14 and 2:05.95. Other freshmen winners included Haley Hamza (1000, 10:42.47), Angie Phetbenjakul (100 free, 53.40) and Kevin Fink (200 fly, 1:56.23).

“Half our team [is] first years, and it’s going to be a great couple of years before I’m gone,” Zavala told the UCSD Athletics Department. “Young team, a lot of talent, a lot of depth. So it’s exciting what we can do, break some new records and get as many people in Nationals as we can.”

Sophomore transfer and Solana Beach native Michael Cohn, making his Triton debut, was able to eventually pull away from the pack to take first place in the 200 backstroke.

Remaining individual winners for UCSD were junior Kyle Nader (1,000 free, 9:46.91) and senior Sean Malley (100 fly, 52.25).

Despite the one-sided result, UCSD garnered a satisfying win over a rather tough opponent. The Tritons look forward to a week off before they face off against interstate rival and Division-I school UC Santa Barbara. The Tritons will be traveling north to meet the Gauchos on Nov. 7.

“[There are] some mental strategies going into preparing for Santa Barbara,” Falcon said. “[They’ve] got former [UCSD head] coach Matt Macedo over there. [There are] some tricks up our sleeve that we’re ready to pull out for that meet.”

CORRECTION: In the print edition, the article’s accompanying photo was incorrectly credited to Megan Lee. The photographer’s name is Megan Lao.