Gaucho Cinco Pack Headed to Lone Star State for NCAA Championships

March 17, 2009

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• The Schedule
Thursday, Mar. 19 thru Saturday, Mar. 21

UC Santa Barbara at NCAA Swimming Championships
at Texas A&M's Student Rec Center Natatorium (College Station, Texas)
Meet Site

• The Cinco Pack...
The Cinco Pack typically refers to a Gaucho ticket offer, but in this case stands for the five UCSB swimmers competing in the 2009 NCAA Swimming Championships being hosted by Texas A&M. The Gauchos will swim in seven events, including the 200 and 400 medley relays.

The same five Gaucho women that competed at last season's NCAA Championships have once again qualified this season. Senior Katy Freeman and sophomore Sara Nicponski will be competing in the 100 and 200 breast as well as the 200 and 400 medley relays. Junior Anne Marie May will swim in the 50 and 100 free and will anchor the medley relays. Junior Naomi Javanifard will swim the backstroke legs of the medley relays and will also compete in the 100 back. Rounding out the group is senior Erin Yamamoto, who will swim the butterfly leg in the medley relays.

• Backstroking
The Gaucho women were last in action in February at the Big West Championships. UCSB won its fourth consecutive and 13th overall team title at the championships while also picking up 11 event titles. Senior Katy Freeman set new school records in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke. Also, the Gaucho 200 and 400 free relays, as well as the 200 medley relay, all posted new school records.

• May Madness
Last season, Anne Marie May took third-place at the NCAA Championships in the 50 free with a school record time of 22.00. This season, she has already surpassed that record, posting a new best time of 21.96 at the Husky Invite in December. That time ranks as the seventh best nationally this season, the top time is 21.33 by Arizona's Lara Jackson. In addition to the 50 free, May will also swim the 100 free. She finished 26th last season in the event and is seeded 30th this season with a time of 48.83. Cal's Dana Vollmer is the top seed into the 100 with a time of 47.19.

• The Breaststrokers
Coming off of a spectacular showing at the Big West Championships, senior Katy Freeman will get her final chance at a NCAA title this week. Freeman was the lone Gaucho to post an "A" standard this season, she did so in the 200 breast with her time of 2:09.12. The time ranks Freeman seventh heading into the meet and she will have some tough competition in both of the breast events, including the likes of Olympian Rebecca Soni of USC, who has the top seed in the 100 and 200. Freeman has the 19th fastest time in the 100 breast at 1:00.48. She will also be competing against teammate Sara Nicponski, who is seeded 32nd in the 100 (1:00.97) and 28th in the 200 breast (2:11.50).

• Relay Rundown
The UCSB 200 medley relay consisting of Javanifard, Freeman, Yamamoto and May just made the NCAA's cut, slipping in as the meet's 16th seeded relay team. At the Big West Championships, they posted a school record time of 1:38.40, which is 2.38 seconds off of the time posted by top-seeded Arizona. The Wildcats also hold the top mark in the 400 medley relay with a time of 3:30.09. The Gauchos' top time this season in the event is 3:37.87, which is also the school record set at the Husky Invite in December.

• A History Lesson
Last season, the Gaucho women placed 25th overall at the NCAA Championships. May earned All-American honors while Freeman, Javanifard, Yamamoto and Nicponski earned Honorable Mention All-American accolades. The five swimmers were the first Gaucho women to swim to All-American honors since the 1990 season. There has yet to be a Gaucho woman swimmer to win a NCAA title.