Conference championships aren’t usually associated with UC Davis. However, members of the UC Davis swimming and diving team would argue otherwise.
On Feb. 22, the Aggies won their third Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) championship in four years, earning the honor of The California Aggie’s female team of the quarter.
The team, led by senior breaststroker Liliana Alvarez and freshman butterflier Hilvy Cheung, outscored seven other schools to win the MPSF title. On the second day of the meet, all 20 Aggies—16 swimmers and four divers—scored.
Alvarez collected two MPSF individual titles, winning the 200 Breast in a pool-record 2:12:84 and also the 100 Breast in 1:00.89. Alvarez, who owns the 100 Breast meet record (1:00.47), became the first swimmer in the history of the MPSF to win one event four times, achieving the feat in the 100 Breast. She is also the first Aggie to qualify for nationals all four years.
“She has gotten better every year,” head coach Barbara Jahn said about Alvarez. “And I think it’s a testament to the amount of hard work and dedication that she’s put forth to our team. She’s a great role model and a fierce competitor.”
Cheung, named MPSF Freshman of the Year, placed second at the MPSF meet in the 200 Fly with a time of 1:56:14. Senior Haley Porter also earned a second place finish in the 100 Free with a time of 50:02 — the third fastest 100 Free swim in UC Davis history.
Jahn credited the work of assistant coach Pete Motekaitis, the former coach of the men’s team before it was cut, in the development of Cheung. She also said that Cheung reminds her of a younger Alvarez.
“She’s getting faster and faster,” Jahn said. “She’s going to be like Lily. I’m going to predict she’s going to qualify for nationals all four years. She’s going to go to nationals and set new records.”
Both Alvarez and Cheung will represent UC Davis at the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s’ Swimming and Diving Championships in Minneapolis on March 20-22. On the diving side, sophomore Lucy Lafranchise will represent UC Davis at the NCAA Zone E qualifying meet from March 13 to 15 in Colorado Springs, Colo.