As the swimmers took to the water on the first day of competition, their somber moods were almost palpable, reflected in the atmosphere of the surrounding day.
Freshman Kyle Smith related how the gloomy weather affected the morale of not only himself but his teammates as well.
“It was just dark, gloomy clouds and really cold and windy,” Smith said. “A lot of us wanted to huddle and keep warm rather than be behind the blocks cheering on our teammates.”
Despite the conditions, the women’s division ranked victorious with a day’s total of 304 points while CSU Bakersfield finished in second with 164.
Standout performances came from freshman Gloria Benefield, who placed first in both the 100 butterfly at 1:00.31 and the 200 freestyle, with a just-a-shade-off-the-record time of 1:55.66.
Freshman Melody White placed first in the 100 backstroke at 1:01.05 and second, just behind Benefield, at 1:57.00 in the 200 freestyle.
The women dominated the top four spots in the 500 freestyle, led by freshman Caitlin Lee’s time of 5:22.00. They took the top four spots in the 100 breaststroke, spearheaded by freshman Danielle Coville’s time of 1:08.72 and also the top three spots in the 50 yard freestyle, with sophomore Erin Musgrave leading the way with a 25:55.
On the flipside, the men’s division racked up 206 points, coming in second behind Cal State Bakersfield (241).
Freshman Peter Kline placed first in the 200 individual medley and broke the meet record at 1:56.94 and ranked second in the 100 backstroke as he clocked a time of 53.98.
Other standouts included Kyle Smith’s second-place finishes in both the 100 butterfly and the 200 freestyle, with times of 52.47 and 1:44.85 respectively.
As the second day event dawned sunnier and warmer, assistant coach Phillip Yoshida said, “When it’s cold, it’s cold, there’s no escaping it,” Yoshida said. “The sun helps tremendously.”
“There are a lot more smiles and their attitudes are way better today,” he added.
The women’s division once again ranked first overall (302) while UC Santa Cruz cruised into second (152) and Cal State Bakersfield ranked third (139).
Freshman Matthew Waggoner broke the 500 freestyle meet record with a first place 4:40.70 timeframe. He also broke his own 1650 freestyle school record on day one at 15:48.48.
Smith placed first in the 200 butterfly at 1:54.48.
The women earned bragging rights from such standouts as senior Stacy Sorenson, who knocked out three first place wins in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles.
Musgrave and White traded first and second spots in the 100 and 200 backstroke. Musgrave also took second in the 50 freestyle, with a 25:10 timeframe.
As Benefield stood draped in a warm towel, dripping and fresh out of the pool, she said, “My races weren’t as fast as I would have liked them to be . I love just getting out there and racing.”
Following a short rest, the men’s and women’s line-ups will return to the water for competition as Las Vegas hosts the team at the UNLV Invitational on Dec. 15 to 17.