SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UCSB women's swimming and diving team kicks off the season when it takes on Utah, Oregon State and UCLA in a triple dual meet this Friday at UCLA. The Gauchos are coming off of a second place finish at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, and will look to build upon last years performance.
"It's very exciting because of the meet they're coming off of," head coach Gregg Wilson said. "One of the best meets I've ever had by a men's or women's team. They were just incredible"
"We lost some very effective leaders, great team captains and a senior class that was very supportive and involved, just great women," Wilson said. "Sophia and Emma are seasoned veterans and are very attentive to the needs of the team."
Hunt finished the season last year with what coach Wilson called "one of the greatest performances in a relay any Gaucho has ever had." Her leg led to a victory in the 800 free relay during the first night of the MPSF Championships. The Gauchos will look for Hunt to continue that success over the course of the season.
Yamauchi, the school record holder in the 200 IM (1:56.58), was undefeated in all of her events in dual meets last season. She was named a Mid-Major All-American and continued on to compete in the NCAA Championships as well as the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Mid-Major All-American, junior Andrea Ward, has a lot of experience as well as she also competed in the NCAA Championships and the Olympic Trials. She was named the MPSF Swimmer of the Year and holds school records in the 200 free (1:48.55), 500 free (4:48.60), 1000 free (10:03.01), 100 fly (52.98), and the 200 fly (1:59.16).
"Sophia and Andrea look great this year, they have great attitudes, and gained valuable experience last year as sophomores, so we have very high expectations for their junior and senior seasons," coach Wilson said.
The Reigning MPSF Freshman of the Year, sophomore Katie Records brings even more experience to the table. She qualified for the Olympic Trials by over two seconds in the 200 breaststroke and was a Mid-Major All-American Honorable Mention.
Junior Allie Knight had an outstanding season last year as well, setting school records in the 200 back (1:57.67) and 400 IM (4:14.48) on her way to earning a Mid-Major All-American Honorable Mention selection.
Another junior, Katie Tomkinson, who redshirted last year due to a shoulder injury, will contribute in a big way this season by bolstering the Gauchos in their sprint freestyle events.
"Katie will be a significant addition to our program, she is one of our fastest," Wilson said. "We are very excited that she still has two years left."
Despite only having two seniors – Hunt and Paige Bradley – the women's swimming and diving team will capitalize on the experience from many younger athletes and will look for athletes to step up.
"We have a lot of sleepers," Wilson said. "A lot of athletes with potential in our freshman class. They will find their way into the thick of things, we just have to give them time."
Freshman Marissa Neel hopes to stand out and make a huge impact in the backstroke and butterfly for the Gauchos.
Diving figures to have a bigger part of the lineup this year, with the team featuring four freshmen out of six divers. Freshman Tripti Singhal, Hannah Tomp, Monika Terry, and Quetzal Moreno all add to a talented diving squad.
"I would like to give BYU, UC Davis, and now Hawaii women a good run this year," Wilson said. "Our women will be tested this Friday at UCLA. We just have to find a way to go fast, and find a way to dive well."