Last season, both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams came up short at the Big West Conference championships, placing second to UC Santa Barbara.
This season, the Aggies took first in both spots and left the Gauchos in their wake.
The men scored a cumulative 958.5 points and the women posted 864 over the four-day league championships. These titles are the first for either squad. The 958.5 points amassed by the men are the most ever scored in the five-team Big West format.
“We improved a lot from last year,” said men’s coach Pete Motekaitis. “It was our first win and we amassed the largest amount of points ever by a team.”
From the onset, the women took charge. Ashley Chandler, Morgan Lee, Kayleigh Foley ,and Jen Cadmus set a school record with a time of 1:41.33 in the 200 medley relay on Wednesday. The women would end Wednesday in third place.
On the second day of competition, Bugbee won the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:52.29 while Chandler, Lee, Foley and Hermann placed first in the 400 medley relay at 3:42.52. Thursday ended with the Aggies second to the Gauchos by 89 points.
Even with the Aggies’ quality performances over the first two days of the tournament, they weren’t finished putting up great races.
“We had an amazing swim the second day,” said women’s coach Barbara Jahn. “The next day, [we] came back and swam even faster. I told the team, ‘Whatever you’re doing is working. Keep doing it and don’t change anything.'”
The Aggies took Jahn’s advice to heart.
On Friday, Chandler won the 100 backstroke and Hermann placed first in the 200 freestyle, finishing at 1:48.89. UC Davis found itself trailing UCSB by 47 but would overtake the Gauchos on Saturday thanks to Jennifer Meyer’s victory in one-meter diving. The win gave the Aggies a cushion they needed to prevent a late surge by the Gauchos.
“I don’t think I’ve experienced that type of momentum in a meet,” Jahn said. “It was incredible. It was just lifetime best after lifetime best and I couldn’t be prouder. Their hard work and dedication brought home the title.”
The men’s path to their championship started with a third-place finish in the 200 medley relay. Jimmy Fong, Scott Weltz, Daniel Donnelly, and Russ Underwood combined to break a school record in 1:29.47. The previous mark was 1:30.63.
In the 800 freestyle relay, Alex Daneke , Jordan Lager , BJ Scoggan , and Weltz won with a time of 6:33.55. The men would lead by nine points on the first day and never relinquish it.
“We led from wire to wire,” said Motekaitis. “We were just consistently good. That’s not an easy thing to do over seven sessions.”
Thursday, Weltz won the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:45.55 while Adam Borchard finished second in the 500 freestyle. Diver Paul Navo led a UC Davis sweep as he placed first in the one-meter event.
Friday was much of the same as Weltz won the 100 butterfly, clocking in at 47.17. Scoggan took second in the 400 individual medley with a time of 3:54.58.
The final day saw the men pull away as Weltz won his third individual event – the 200 breaststroke with a time of 1:56.14. Daniel Donnelly would take second in the 200 butterfly at 1:47.75, narrowly outtouched by UCSB’s Tim Freeman.
“We were consistent,” Motekaitis said. “It was a total team effort from top to bottom. These guys really went for it and all of their hard work absolutely paid off.
“The divers did an amazing job. I’m thrilled and I’m just so proud of this team. Every challenge has been met with flying colors.”
MATT WANG can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.