Big time conferences don’t scare the Aggies.
In their first meet of the 2010-2011 season, the swim team traveled down to Southern California to take on the best that Los Angeles had to offer.
The Aggies squared up against Pacific 10 Conference powerhouse UCLA and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation newcomer Loyola Marymount on Friday and came home satisfied.
“I was very pleased with our performance,” said coach Barbara Jahn. “It was a great start to the new season.”
Coming off of an outstanding 2009-2010 season in which the Aggies won the Big West Conference Championship, the bar was set high for new faces on the team as well as the returning upperclassmen looking to repeat their success.
“We got an opportunity to look at the new freshmen talent and no one was afraid to race against a good team like UCLA,” Jahn said.
Senior Heidi Kucera won the 200-meter breaststroke and freshman Lily Alvarez was close behind, taking second place in the event.
Alvarez’s strong swimming was not an abnormal sight for the Aggies. New team members made big contributions for the Aggies in the pool on Friday, including freshman Joann Liang who took fourth place with a time of 59.68 in the 100-meter backstroke.
Junior Kayliegh Foley continued her dominance with two second-place finishes. She missed wins by fractions of a second in both races, falling to a UCLA swimmer who also competes on the USA National team.
Foley’s races included the 100 meter freestyle, finishing in 52.15, and the 200 meter medley relay. Foley partnered with Linda Hermann, Lily Alvarez, and Megan Leung in the relay as the group combined for a time of 1:45.32, good enough to take second place.
Sophomores Grace Benefield and Bridget Bugbee had another tandem finish for the Aggies, coming in second and third with times of 10:39.50 and 10:42.94 , respectively, in the 1000-meter freestyle.
The 50-meter freestyle, an all-out sprint for one length of the pool, was the closest race of the day.
Foley again was barely outmatched as she finished fourth in 24.26 – only .03 seconds behind the fist place finisher from UCLA.
In the end, UC Davis trounced Loyola Marymount by a score of 217-76 but was edged out by UCLA 165-121, putting the Aggies at 1-1 on the new season.
“I’m very proud of the way we opened up,” said Jahn. “We took advantage of the great competition and thrived on it.”
UC Davis will compete in the Toshiba Classic this weekend in Long Beach, Calif.
JOHNNY PARSONS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.