Feb. 21, 2006
The No. 7 UCLA swim and dive team will split up this week for the Pac-10 Championships as the divers head to Federal Way, WA and the swimmers head to Long Beach, CA February 22-25. The diving section of the meet will be hosted by Arizona State, while the swim portion is hosted by UCLA.
Events begin on Wednesday evening with the 200 Medley Relay and 800 Free Relay at 6:00 pm. On Thursday, prelims begin at 11:00 am with the 500 Free, 200 IM, 50 Free, 200 Free Relay, and 1M diving. Finals in those events will begin at 6:00 pm. Friday's prelim section will feature the 400 IM, 100 Fly, 200 Free, 100 Breast, 100 Back, 400 Medley Relay and 3M diving, with the finals beginning at 6:00 pm. The final day of competition will begin at 11:00 am with prelims, and at 6:00 pm with the finals. Events held on Saturday will be the 200 Back, 100 Free, 200 Breast, 200 Fly, 400 Free Relay, 1650 Free and Platform diving.
The Bruins (7-3, 3-3 Pac-10) are poised for a strong finish at the Pac-10 meet after a solid season of dual meet and invitational competitions. UCLA has depth in both the diving and swim events, which will help contribute towards a possible Pac-10 title. UCLA has won two Pac-10 titles (2001/2003) and is looking to improve on last year's fourth-place finish.
Leading the way in Federal Way, WA will be senior Paige Thompson who has had an incredibly successful final season with the Bruins. Thompson became the first diver in Pac-10 history to be honored on two consecutive occasions as the Pac-10 Diver of the Month (January, December). She has qualified for the NCAA Zone Championships on both 1M and 3M, and against California on January 27, set a new meet record on 3M, winning that event, along with the one meter competition.
Junior Sara Clark and freshman Marisa Samaniego should also have a strong showing at Pac-10's. Both have qualified on the 1M and 3M events for the NCAA Zone Championships. Freshmen Tess Schofield and Brittany Hill will also head to Washington to compete on the platform. Both Schofield and Hill have qualified for the Zone Championships on platform, while Hill has also qualified on 1M.
Senior Kim Vandenberg and junior Katie Arnold will lead the Bruin swimmers in Long Beach as both have had sensational seasons. Arnold is looking to defend her 2005 100 Backstroke Pac-10 title and is swimming very fast heading into this weekend's championship. On February 11 against USC, Arnold swam an NCAA "A" qualifier in the 100 Back (54.41). Last season, she won the Pac-10 title in a time of 53.32. Vandenberg also has an "A" qualifier, having notched a time of 1:56.11 in the 200 Fly. Last season, Vandenberg just missed her own Pac-10 title, finishing second to Stanford's Dana Kirk by .10 seconds. Currently, Vandenberg's season best time of 1:56.11 ranks No. 3 on the National list.
Several other swimmers figure to be key contributors at the Pac-10 meet. Junior Katie Nelson holds the 11th-fastest time in the nation in the 1650 Free (16:25.72) and will look to improve on last year's fourth-place finish. Sophomore Nicolette Teo should be a contender for a top-five finish in both the 100 and 200 Breast. Last season, Teo finished fifth in the 100 Breast in a time of 1:02.58.
Sophomore Chiemi Yamamoto, senior Eileen Seissen and junior Jeana Fuccillo should also pose a threat this weekend as all are swimming fast times. Yamamoto improved to 4:16.90 in the 400 IM against USC, while Seissen has held the top 100 Breast time for the Bruins this season (1:02.51). Fuccillo has the Bruins' top 200 Breast time (2:16.07), 200 IM time (2:05.35) and is second in the 400 IM (4:20.36). All three of these swimmers have achieved an NCAA qualifying mark in their respective events.
All five of the Bruin relay teams have qualified for the NCAA Championships and will definitely be in the running for Pac-10 titles this weekend.