UCSB swimmer Alec Cullen culls his motivation from a 2016 commercial which heralded the swan song of Olympic star Michael Phelps.
“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”
Cullen was a shining light for the Gauchos in the shadow of COVID-19, breaking his own Mountain Pacific Sports Federation record in the 200-yard breaststroke at last weekend’s league championships at Cal Poly.
“To see Alec break his own conference record against such a strong group of breaststrokers after returning from injury was awesome,” coach Matt Macedo said.
The UCSB sophomore swam a time of 1:55.41 to beat BYU star Josue Dominguez by 1.3 seconds. Cullen also clocked a time of 53.59 to place third in the 100 breast, an event that Dominguez won in 51.81. The BYU star was also part of three winning relay teams to help the Cougars win the men’s team event. The Gauchos finished third.
Cullen originally broke the league record in the 200 breast as a freshman, clocking 1:55.72.
Teammate Dominic Falcon won the 400 intermediate medley in 3:48.75, edging BYU’s Tama Tuitama by just 0.35 of a second. Falcon also took second in the 500 freestyle, with teammate Dan Marella placing third.
“Our men were led by Alec and Dom’s first-place finishes along with the leadership of Dan Marella,” Macedo said. “Dan was a phenomenal leader and for him to be able to race following his surgery in the fall was a highlight of a difficult season.”
Falcon was also the runnerup in the 500 free. Also placing second were Gabe Nickels in the 1650 free (15:40.36) and Christian Martinez in the 50 free (20.13).
Hawaii won the women’s meet with the Gauchos taking fourth. They won three races — two by Maelyn Lawrence. The Gaucho sophomore won both the 1650 free (17:08.81) and the 200 fly (2:01.88), edging teammate Molly McCance (2:01.95). Lawrence was also second in the 500 free.
Freshman Dani Carter finished first in the 50 backstroke in a time of 54.54, touching out Hawaii’s Karolina Hajkova by 0.22. She was also the runner-up in the 200 back (1:57.94).
“Lexi Fusari and Bryn McGowan continued to do a great job of guiding our women through a difficult championship season and I am proud of the way they raced in their final MPSF meet,” Macedo said. “I am impressed by Maelynn’s excellent double and can’t wait to see Danielle chase more victories in the coming years.”
The meet wrapped up the 2021 season for the Gauchos.
“This team was incredible to work with all week, all season really,” Macedo said. “To finish just shy of last year’s seven individual titles with all of the obstacles and uncertainty we faced is a testament to the dedication, sacrifice and commitment of this group of men and women.”