The NCAA Swimming Championships is the fastest collegiate swim meet in the country.
Athletes from all over the world train day in and day out in hopes of being fast enough to even qualify for the meet in College Station, Tex.
For the first time in UC Davis Division I history, a pair of Aggie swimmers qualified for the event – and made their presence known upon arriving. Scott Weltz picked up All-American honors, while fellow junior Heidi Kucera came up just shy of doing the same.
Weltz didn’t waste any time in making an impact on the national stage.
In his first day in Texas, Weltz managed to gain All-American honors while breaking his own school record in the 100 breast, going 1:43.97 to place 15th overall.
The following day, Weltz competed in the 400-yard individual medley, finishing 29th in 3:51.24.
On the competition’s final day, Weltz captured All-American honors once again, placing 16th in the 200 breast. Weltz’s final swim of the season came in at 1:57.11 – his second fastest time this season.
“Scott did a wonderful job representing himself, his team and his school at the NCAA Championships,” coach Pete Motekaitis said. “His success is helping establish footprints for others to follow in the program. His success is based upon years of work in and out of the pool and great attention to detail.”
Kucera rode her strong showing at the Big West Conference Championships to an impressive finish at College Station last week.
At conference, Kucera went on to win the 100-yard breaststroke, 200 individual medley and placed second in the 200 breast.
Despite finishing second in the 200 breast, Kucera met “A” cut standards with a time of 2:09.41, making her the first ever Aggie to qualify with an “A” time.
Kucera went on to represent the Aggies in all three events at the NCAA Championships.
On the first day of competition, Kucera opened with the 200 IM in which she finished in 2:01.12, placing 54th overall. On the second day, Kucera swam in the 100 breast, finishing in an improved 24th position in the 49-woman field in a time of 1:00.99.
Finally, Kucera swam in her specialty event – the 200 breast – on the final day of competition.
Kucera saved her best for last, placing 18th in a time of 2:10.95 – just .14 seconds shy of making the top 16 and earning All-American honors.
“It was intense,” Kucera said. “Going to Texas was a learning experience. Overall, I was pleased with myself and it was exciting to be in the fastest meet in the nation.”
Weltz and Kucera made a pronounced start to the season by winning all of their individual events in the conference duals. The real work then began at the Big West Championships two weeks ago, where Kucera and Weltz combined to post five individual conference titles in school-, conference- and meet-record-breaking fashion.
For their efforts, Weltz and Kucera were named Big West Male and Female Athlete of the Year, respectively.
ANDREA GUTIERREZ can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.