Oct. 27, 1999
Last season's Bruin swimming and diving squad was a young one, so look for this group to show a great deal of improvement as it moves into the next millennium.
"We had a very young team last year," said head swimming coach Cyndi Gallagher. "We look at it as a four-year program. Our athletes get faster ast they go through the program because they're learning more about their stroke techniques, racing strategies and how to prepare mentally for competition."
With an Olympic Games less than 12 months away, it is appropriate to remember someone who was a senior the last time an Olympiad rolled around, Annette Salmeen. "Annette is a great example of how people have grown in this program." continues Gallagher. "Her senior year (1996) was her best year, winning an NCAA Championship (in the 200 butterfly) and an Olympic gold medal."
If you were familiar with the 1998-99 Bruins, this squad looks to be more of the same. "Last year," said Gallagher, "we had eight athletes who had their first experience at NCAAs. With that experience and knowledge behind them, we are looking to make a move back into the top-10 at NCAAs."
Senior Keiko Price spent part of her summer representing the United States in the Pan-Pacific Championships in Sydney, Australia, a competition that took place at the same site that will host the Olympic swimming competition next summer. Price earned a Pac-10 100 freestyle title in 1999 and will be a key part of UCLA's freestyle group.
Along with Price, this group is headed by two of the Bruins 13 returning 1999 NCAA qualifiers, Angela Belloni and Katie Ryan. Both had strong competitive summers, and Gallagher is expecting continued improvement from the pair. Sophomore Beth Goodwin has continued to improve in her freestyle sprints and will be a factor as well.
Sophomores Marilyn Chua and Anna Swanson return to add depth to the sprint freestyle group, and will challenge to increase their contributions to this year's team.
Newcomers in these events are paced by Erica Shugart, a freshman who has a strong competitive background that includes a CIF championship in the 50 Free.
Additionally, newcomers Ashley Grissom and transfer Rachel Stratton will round out this talented sprint group.
Freestyle Middle Distance
Gallagher is looking for butterfly specialist Katie Younglove to again be a major contributor in both the 200 and 500 freestyles in addition to her butterfly duties.
Rounding out the returnees are Geraldine Schick, Emily Melina, Hilary Peterson, and Heather Teagle. Gallagher expects continued improvement and contributions from this group.
This group will be bolstered by three newcomers, freshmen Beth Boehm, Erin Zentner and Jie Lee. Gallagher is looking forward to having this trio on the roster, saying that "all three should have an immediate impact. They are all capable of qualifying and scoring at NCAAs."
A much-improved Erin Thomas is expected to lead the way in this group, which will be dominated by newcomers. All three of the middle-distance freshmen, Boehm, Lee and Zehnter, can also compete at distance, and the group will be rounded out by two more freshmen, Courtney Mayo, and Sophie Bambuck, who comes to the Bruins from Villennes, France.
Despite the youth of this group, Gallagher is confident of their abilities. "This will be a competitive distance group for us this year."
Sophomore All-American Nicole Beck had what Gallagher calls "an outstanding NCAA meet," and will be back for more in 1999-2000. Beck scored in the 200 backstroke at NCAAs last season, with a 10th-place finish and the fourth-fastest time in school history (1:58.95) and was a member of the school record-breaking 200 medley relay.
Challenging Beck's spot on the relay will be Leanne Cadag, an incoming freshman who was a scorer at last year's US Nationals.
Junior Courtney Gulledge and sophomore Megan Barnum will continue to give this group some key depth. A second freshman, Stacy Kearney, who comes to UCLA with junior national experience, will round out the backstroke corps.
"Amber Wines, Lyndee Hovsepian and Jen Noddle all qualified for NCAAs last year, and having three breaststrokers at nationals is a feat all by itself," says Gallagher of her breaststroak group.
Wines scored in the 100 breaststroke at last year's NCAAs in Athens, Ga. Hovsepian and Noddle both turned in impressive summer seasons to top off successful freshmen campaigns
Two additional returnees will have their competitive schedule dictated by the progression of their rehab, as Nicole Dotts and Holiday Powell are both returning from injuries.
A final member of this group is newcomer Tracy Kinsch, a transfer who emerged from West Valley Community College to compete successfully at the U.S. Spring Nationals.
Continuing on a tradition that began with Salmeen in 1996 when she won the U.S. Olympic Trials and went on to earn an Olympic Gold, UCLA continues to be a very strong team in the butterfly stroke. Last year at NCAAs, three three Bruins scored in the 100 fly.
The headliners of this group include several swimmers who have been quite successful at the national level, Beth Goodwin, Katie Younglove and Julia Voitovitsch
Goodwin finished fourth at the 1999 U.S. Summer Nationals in the 100 fly with a time of 1:01.25, and recently added the 200 fly to her competitive repertoire, finishing 20th in that event at the U.S. Nationals.
Younglove finished her freshman campaign with a bang, posting a time of 1:57.88 in the 200 fly at the NCAA Championships to finish fourth in that event and stake her claim to the second-fastest time in school history. From there, she moved on to the U.S. Summer Nationals, where she finished eighth in that same event.
1996 German Olympian Julie Voitovitsch had a good freshman year in 1999, but Gallagher is looking for continued improvement in both the 100 and 200 fly. Another swimmer that went to the U.S. Nationals is Brighid Dwyer, who continues to improve and hopes to land a spot at the NCAA Championships in March.
Sophomores Emily Melina and Hilary Peterson add more depth to this already strong group, in addition to a versatile newcomer, Starr Airey.
The butterfly roster is rounded out by freshman Emily Whichard, who competes in both the 100 and 200 fly.
Jen Noddle qualified for last year's NCAA Championships in both the 200 and 400 IM, and will be back for continued improvement and scoring potential this season. Keiko Price, who owns the second-fastest 200 IM time in school history, will also be a factor.
National qualifier Jie Lee shows great promise in the IM, and has NCAA scoring potential. Lyndee Hovsepian could see time competing in the 200 IM, while Janet Worthington had a tremendous freshman year with lifetime bests in both the 200 and 400 IM, while versatile sophomore Marilyn Chua will add depth to this group.
"We should have very competitive relays at NCAAs this year," predicts Gallagher. "We have three good butterfliers, three good breaststrokers ? We'll be competitive, but who knows who will be on which teams."
The team aspect of the relays is an important part of the long tradition of Bruin swimming and diving. Bruin Pride comes to the forefront, and the team's ultimate goal is the double points at NCAAs. "In order to be in the top-10 at NCAAs, our relays need to be awesome," and that is just what Gallagher expects.
"Keiko Price has always been a tremendous relay sprinter for UCLA. Beth Goodwin, Katie Younglove and Nicole Beck stepped up last year to carry on the Bruin relay tradition. We have the talent to have all five relays in the top-eight at NCAAs. It is a matter of who wants to be on the relay the most and having the team come together."
Second-year diving coach Tom Stebbins has several weapons in his arsenal coming into the 1999-200 season. Leading the pack will be junior Anne Baghramian, who qualified for the NCAA Championships last year and continued on to a very successful summer season.
"Anne did a great job for us during the dual meet season," said Stebbins. "Going to NCAAs was a big deal for her last year, and this summer she qualified for the U.S. Senior Nationals for the first time."
The remainder of the Bruin returnees include Ami Achrekar, Elizabeth Ackerman, and Chrissie Amorosia.
Achrekar and Amorosia were injured for the majority of the 1998-99 season, but are rebounding with successful summer training sessions.
"Chrissie did a great job at senior zones this summer and she trained hard all spring and summer," said Stebbins. "When she got to zones, she was in the thick of the competition, hanging in with the really good kids. I'm looking for big things from her this year."
Ackerman was a big help to the Bruins last season, particularly on the one meter springboard. "Hopefully Elizabeth will be able to continue with what she was doing last year and help out on springboards," said Stebbins.
Three freshmen, Heidi Prosser, Regan Gosnell and Jennifer McNally, round out the diving roster.
Prosser turned in a very impressive summer, qualifying for both the U.S. Junior Nationals, where she finished 11th on the one meter springboard, and the Senior Nationals, where she finished 14th in that same event. "Heidi is a hard worker who was a national champion gymnast, but has only been diving for two years," said Stebbins. "Physically, her skills are all there. She just needs to put them all together."
Gosnell also participated in the junior nationals, finishing 11th in the platform before moving on to compete at the senior nationals. "Regan should be able to help out big-time on platform, and will contribute on springboard as well," said Stebbins.
McNally will add more depth to the program, qualifying for the junior nationals on the platform and just missing the cuts on the springboard.
Stebbins concludes, "We did pretty well last year, but I'm hoping we'll be better than that this year."