UCSB and Westmont got their feet wet with last weekend’s delayed start to the 2021 collegiate swimming season.
The Gauchos, who hadn’t competed in nearly a year, defeated Cal Poly in both the men’s and women’s portions of a dual meet held in San Luis Obispo.
Westmont’s women’s team, which participated in two virtual meets last fall, played host to Biola and Simpson on Saturday. It was the first swim meet the Warriors have held in their two-year history.
UCSB’s meet at Cal Poly will be its only warmup for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, scheduled tentatively for later this month. Both Gaucho teams won handily — the men by a score of 174-114 and the women by a 171-120 tally.
“It felt great to be back on deck at Cal Poly,” UCSB coach Matt Macedo said. “Our team wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to race as we haven’t had a meet since February.
“We had a number of strong swims with everyone who traveled scoring points.”
Dominic Falcon, last year’s MPSF Freshman of the Year, had a rousing start to his second season with three individual victories. He captured the 200 butterfly (1:48.85), the 500 freestyle (4:36.15), and 200 IM (1:53.60).
“Dominic’s work ethic and competitiveness are large contributors to his success,” associate head coach Ellie Monobe said.
Falcon won a MPSF championship last year in the 400 IM to become only the second Gaucho to ever win MPSF Freshman of the Year honors.
Fifth-year senior Ryan Levy won two individual events on Saturday, capturing the 100 free (46.43) and 200 free (1:40.43). He also anchored the winning 400 free relay team.
Junior Alec was also a double-winner, finishing first in the 100 breast (56.17) and 200 breast (2:02.47).
Other winners on the men’s side were sophomore Daniel Pry in the 200 back (1:52.38) and junior Timothy Lee in the 100 fly (50.02).
Freshman Danielle Carter and junior Molly McCance won three races apiece for the Gaucho women.
McCance placed first in the 200 fly (2:03.78), 100 free (53.48), and 500 free (5:09.48).
Carter had a memorable collegiate debut, winning the 100 back (54.85), the 200 back (2:02.00), and 100 fly (57.48).
Two other freshmen won events. Katie Nugent captured both the 100 and 200 breast (1:06.78 and 2:24.10) while Paige Gambetta took first in the 200 Free (1:55.03) and second in the 200 back (2:06.25).
Senior captain Bryn McGowan won the 50 free (24.48), junior Dora Seggelke was first in the 200 IM (2:11.12), and sophomore Maelynn Lawrende captured the 1,000 free (10:45.48).
“Both groups did an excellent job supporting each other,” Macedo said. “It was especially satisfying to see all three seniors pick up individual and relay wins in their final college dual meet.
“We know we have some things to work on before our conference meet and we appreciate Cal Poly putting together a safe competition.”
Westmont had to jump through several COVID-19 hoops to play host to the first meet in its history. All of the teams had to test within 72 hours of competition. The locker room was also strictly regulated, with only four swimmers — all from the same team — allowed to occupy the area at the same time.
“We divided up the lanes in the pool for warm-up and warm-down so that we had a good opportunity to be spread out,” Westmont coach Jill Jones Lin said. “Considering how many people were on deck, we were able to stay separate.
“It was a lot of work, but it all went well. The protocols we had in place made all the teams feel safe and comfortable competing. It was sad we couldn’t have spectators but fun to be in our pool.”
About half of Westmont’s roster was unable to compete due to possible exposure to COVID-19 and strict protocols set in place to keep athletes safe. The Warriors still posted several season-best times, with Morgan Bienias placing second in the 1650-yard free with a clocking of 18:13.69.
“Morgan needed an opportunity to try and get the provisional cut for nationals,” Jones Lin said. “We had her suit up in a tech suit and go for it. She did amazing.
“She had a season-best time and beat her time from last year at nationals by eight seconds. It was a great swim. Her provisional cut time puts her fifth in the NAIA.”
Kassy Gregory was third in the 200 free in a time of 2:02.80, with teammate Morgan Shattuck touching the wall in 2:07.79.
“Morgan had a great first 200 free of the season,” Jones Lin said. “So did Kassy. That is the time she needs to go in the 200 free relay to help us qualify for nationals.”
Rachel Peden was just a half-second off the provisional time in the 100 back with her second-place swim of 1:02.94. Teammate Rian Lewandowski placed fourth in 1:03.44. Both times were season bests.
The Warriors’ next meet is set for Feb. 12 at Pepperdine.