The Cal Poly women’s swimming and diving team used a strong performance from senior Rachel O’Brien in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly as she helped the Mustangs defeat UC San Diego 185-115 in a dual meet at the Anderson Aquatic Center Saturday afternoon. On the men’s side, Cal Poly dropped a 179-115 decision to fall to 0-2 in dual meets this season while the fifth-ranked (Division II) Tritons improved to 8-2.
“We haven’t raced since the middle of November, so it was the first time for us to get back on the blocks and see what we could do competing-wise,” sixth-year head coach Tom Milich said. “On the women’s side, we did a great job, we finished races and on the men’s side we just didn’t finish some races.”
O’Brien, a first-year swimmer for the Mustangs since transferring from Oregon State, used a strong finishing kick to coast to victory in both her individual butterfly events. She won the 100-yard race touching in a time of 55.97 seconds and the 200 in 2 minuets, 2.82 seconds. O’Brien, freshman Allison de Peralta, senior Angie Haven and junior Jill Jones also finished first in the team 200 medley relay.
“Just knowing who is swimming next to me and what their times are and where I should be is good,” O’Brien said. “It felt really smooth going out the first 50 and 100 in the butterfly. I didn’t have a lot of people to race, but I just felt smooth so I kept my stroke together.”
Despite UC San Diego’s narrow four-tenths of a second margin of victory in the final event of the day — the 200-yard freestyle relay — the Mustangs hung on to win the meet. Haven won the 100-yard breaststroke (1:05.37) and the 200-yard breaststroke (2:18:19) while de Peralta captured the 100-yard backstroke (58.14) to help the women’s side improve to 1-1 in dual meets this season.
Junior Sami McIntyre won the 1- and 3-meter diving events to boost the Mustangs as well.
It was the team’s first meet since November when several swimmers competed in the USA National Championships in Austin, Texas. The Mustangs’ next marquee event will be the conference championships — the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships for the women Feb. 20-23 and the Pac-12 Conference Championships on Feb 28-March 6 for the men.
“At this point in the season we’re still training pretty hard because we don’t have the conference championships for another month,” Milich said. “In swimming, you work really hard for a specific meet and then you start resting for that. For the men that’ll be about six weeks from now and for the women about a month.”
The men’s side couldn’t find an answer to the Tritons’ strong finishing efforts on the day, though, as UC San Diego won 12 total events on its way to victory.
Yet, Cal Poly freshman phenom Mickey Mackle, who competed in last year’s Olympic trials, won the 200-yard individual medley by just three-hundredths of a second over the Tritons’ Nicholas Korth in one of the tightest races of the day.
“I swam pretty well today,” Mackle said. “I was hoping to go just right about where I was today and I’m just looking forward to getting some rest and swimming even faster later in the season. That last win was fun just to end the meet on a good note.”
Other Cal Poly winners included sophomore Paolo Stanchi in the 200-yard backstroke (1:52.41), junior Konrad Antoniuk in the 1,000-yard freestyle and freshman Sonny Fierro in the 500-yard freestyle.
Youth permeates the men’s roster, but Milich said his squad is poised to compete in the conference championships next month.
“We’re not really very deep (on the men’s side), but youth-wise on the men’s side we are very good in the freshman and sophomore class,” Milich said.
Saturday’s matchup featured a standard collegiate 16-event format, but was considered to be more of a sprint meet because of many of the events being shorter distance races when compared to those in conventional dual meets.