The UCSD swim team put in a strong performance over the weekend at the Triton-hosted Arena Invitational in Long Beach.
Competing against some of the best D-I and D-II competition in the nation, the Triton men finished fifth overall and the women finished 11th.
Through the course of the tournament, the men qualified three swimmers for the NCAA finals tournament and the women qualified nine swimmers.
“It’s pretty awesome,” junior captain Michael Lorch said. “We swam extremely well this weekend — the emotions on the deck were amazing. I think to have qualifiers like Nick Korth and Alex Henley is amazing. We’re doing very well right now.”
The men took last week off of competition, and both teams spent an easy week at practice to prepare for the meet after six weeks of intensive training. At the tournament, competition began each day around 9 a.m. and continued until early evening.
Lorch said the schedule was hard, but the squad was well-prepared through its training.
“It’s tough,” Lorch said. “It’s draining, emotionally and physically. But it’s nice to only have to swim one or two events a day so you get to focus on individual races more. We got a little bit of rest before the meet. Everybody was doing well preparing for the meet and it turned out to work for our advantage. Our coaches prepared us very well for this meet.”
Head coach Scott McGihon said the results were a direct result of the team’s preparation strategy.
“We are definitely well prepared, maybe more so than we ever have been,” he said. “What we have done in terms of preparation is great. We were ready to swim fast and we achieved all of our goals — even exceeded them. But now it’s time to get down to business.”
On the first day, the women’s 200 freestyle and 400 medley relay teams recorded NCAA automatic qualifying times as they finished 11th and ninth with times of 1:34.39 and 3:47.97, respectively.
Freshman Anji Shakya was on the qualifying medley team. She went on to place 16th in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:58.89 — 13 seconds faster than her previous personal record. The men’s relay teams took seventh in the 200 free, with a time of 1:23.10, and sixth overall in the 400 medley, with a time of 3:20.28.
On the second day of competition, freshman Nick Korth scored a sixth-place finish in the 100 breast stroke while junior Griffin Bracke finished eighth in the same event. Korth also took the Tritons’ best finish of the tournament when he placed third in the 200 breast stroke with a school record time of 1:59.32 — nearly three seconds faster than the previous record. Bracke also placed sixth in the same race. Both swimmers hit NCAA qualifying times with their efforts.
NCAA champion and junior captain Alex Henley took ninth overall with a time of 4:18.90, which also qualifies her for the NCAA tournament at the end of year.
On the third day, junior Matt Herman broke the school’s longest standing swim record, finishing the 1650 free in 15:29 to best Dave Sacco’s 1988 time of 15:38.
The Tritons now have a break in their schedule, and will rest for a few days before resuming their rigorous training.
“When we come back after Thanksgiving we’re going to start training hard,” McGihon said. “The Sunday after finals we have our training camp, where we go for six to seven hours a day for two weeks. The athletes must be prepared physically and mentally because they are probably going to break down.”
The Tritons return to action on Jan. 8, in a duel meet against Loyola Marymount University at Canyonview Pool.