Nov. 12, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The defending Big West Conference champions enter the 2009-2010 swimming season with a positive outlook thanks to their very promising freshmen class. The UC Santa Barbara men's swimming team is aiming for their 29th overall and third-straight Big West title this season.
"We have the best recruiting class of freshmen and transfers ever this year," boasted coach Gregg Wilson about his very deep and young men's swim team.
"The potential in the freshmen and the transfers is like a big vitamin shot for our program. We have kids that are not only going to be finalists in the Big West Conference, but we have individuals capable of making it to the NCAA's this year. It's exciting."
The UCSB men's and women's swim teams have always been a threat when it comes to freestyle events, especially the sprints. Even though Bradley Matsumoto, a Big West Champion and Olympic Trials qualifyer graduated, three of the top five freestylers in the state of California chose to swim for UCSB this season.
Included in that group is Cal transfer, Ryan Hanni, who had a fantastic summer and according to Wilson, "just keeps getting better and better."
The sprint freestyle events will be led by senior Scott Vogelgesang, who competed in the 100 freestyle at the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Distance, however, is going to be a soft spot for the Gauchos. Sophomore Jimmy Gaston has suffered a shoulder injury and it is questionable as to whether he will compete this year.
Senior Brett Chamberlain, who placed eighth in the 100 freestyle, 10th in the 500 freestyle and 10th in the 1650 freestyle at the Big West Championships in 2009, will bring experience to the group. Helping him lead the distance swimmers will be transfer Shane Hurter, from Mt. San Antonio Community College, who has typically swam shorter distances.
"Shane is swimming and working harder than he ever has in his life," according to Wilson.
"Our butterfly events are going to be pretty good this year with our veterans and Max Horell," said Wilson.
Expected to lead the Gauchos in the butterfly events are seniors Chris Wiggin and Danny McClary. Wiggin placed fifth in the 200 and seventh in the 100 butterfly at the Big West Championships in 2009. McClary finished second in the 100 butterfly and second in the 200 butterfly at the Big West Championships.
Senior Travis Jepson will be the leader for UCSB in the breaststroke events this season. Jepson placed third in the 100 breaststroke and fifth in the 200 breaststroke at the Big West Championships in 2009. Jepson also competed in the Olympic Trials in 2008, where he placed 42nd in the 200-meter breaststroke.
Helping Jepson will be freshman Chris Chuck, who is a two-time 100 breaststroke DFAL Conference Champion. Also, Cal transfer Tim Freeman - brother of former Gaucho Katy Freeman - will also be contributing his talents in the breaststroke events.
The backstroke will be another strong point for the Gauchos this season with the sophomores leading the way. Kevin Ferguson who was the 2009 Big West Champion in the 100 backstroke and the 2009 Big West Men's Freshman Swimmer of the Year is competing to uphold his title again this season.
Sophomore Ryan Garcia, who placed third in the 100 backstroke at the Big West Championships in 2009, will also be a threat this season.
Freshman Zack Humphreys, who was an All-American in the 100 backstroke will hopefully be following in his elder's footsteps, allowing for the Gauchos to be very strong for the backstroke events
Garcia, who placed sixth in the 400 IM, Simoni, who placed eighth in the 200 IM and ninth in the 400 IM, and Long, who placed seventh in the 400 IM and 11th in the 200 IM last year at the Big West Championships, will all be returning and looking to dominate in these events again.
"I am excited about a couple of relays," said Wilson. "I believe we can get our men's 400 medley relay to the NCAA's and the men's 200 freestyle to the NCAA's.
"I believe we can go as fast as we went last year and that's asking a lot because we lost some strong swimmers; but we have this group of freshmen that will be helping."
Last season, the UCSB men's swim team set a conference and school record in the 400 free relay by over two seconds and also set a record in the 400 medley relay.
The UCSB men's and women's swim teams will host Cal State Northridge and UC San Diego this Friday in a triple dual meet Campus Pool at 12 p.m.