On Saturday, Jan. 8 at the Anteater Aquatics Center, heat was foremost in everyone’s mind.
In fact, heat was everywhere on Saturday, except outside. The two-day UC Irvine/Ayres Hotel & Suites Invitational began at 9 a.m. in UCI’s outdoor aquatics center.
Athletes were greeted not only by supportive parents and relatives but also with cold weather and continuous rainfall.
A number of heats took place throughout the day by both the men’s and women’s teams which included a total of six teams: Cal Poly, Cal State Northridge, Chapman and Cal Baptist, among others, as well as UCI in the men’s swimming events for the day.
A total of 16 teams, which included Cal Baptist, Cal Poly, Cal State Northridge, Illinois State, Nevada, Pepperdine, Washington State and San Diego State, who competed in the women’s events.
Still, not to be discouraged by the gloomy weather conditions or the opposition, the UCI Men’s Swim team won the sprint invitational during the first half of the day’s events, and both the UCI men’s and women’s teams won the Distance Invitational in the afternoon.
The UCI women’s team did not win the sprint invitational, but did have some important wins in the swimming events.
The big wins of the day belonged to team captain and senior Kim Do, who took first place in the women’s 50 backstroke, second place in the 100 backstroke and third place in the 200 backstroke.
Junior Lara Bjargardottir placed third in the 200 freestyle, won first in the 200 breaststroke and won first in the 200 individual medley.
Sophomore Ashley DePaul placed second in the women’s 200 butterfly. Freshman Chelsea Nagata finished first in the 50 butterfly.
The final score for the UCI Women’s Swim team was 399 points, putting them in second place for the sprint invitational.
The UCI men’s team clearly dominated the water Saturday, sweeping many of the heats by gaining all of the top spots.
Big wins in the morning went to sophomore Mike Cohee who won first in the 200 freestyle and second in the 100 freestyle.
Sophomore Eric Reilly won second in the men’s 200 freestyle, first in the 50 freestyle and first in the 100 freestyle. Fellow sophomore Daniel Simonsen won first place in the 100 breaststroke and first in the 50 breaststroke.
Freshman Randall Tom won first for UCI in the 200 butterfly while sophomore Duke Krautim took second place in the same event. Tom and Krautim also won first and second in the 200 IM, Tom with the top spot.
Tom again placed first in the 50 fly with freshman Saul Fields coming in right behind Tom in second place.
UCI sophomore Brian Buchanan placed first in the 200 backstroke with Krautim coming in a strong second. In the end, the men’s swim team won the sprint invitational by more than 300 points.
Next came the distance races, with the UCI Men’s and Women’s Swim teams clearly leading the pack.
Standout performances for the women’s side included a first place finish by freshman Madeline Klobukar and second place for fellow freshman Christina Venturacci in the 1000 freestyle.
Bjargardottir took home another first-place finish for UCI in the 400 individual medley.
Senior Alexis Sheridan placed second in the 1650 freestyle, the longest of the distance events. These and other astounding scores by the women’s swim team gave UCI a total score of 290.
The men’s team started the distance racing with Cohee winning first in the 1000 freestyle and Reilly coming in with a second place finish.
Krautim placed first in the men’s 400 individual medley and senior Dreason Barry took the event’s second place spot.
Senior Kareem Adnan and Cohee took first and second in the 500 freestyle, with Adnan in the top spot.
Adnan added another first-place finish in the last distance race, the 1650 freestyle, with Krautim placing second to finish up the invitational.
The men’s team received 317 points for the events of the afternoon. Even though the men’s and the women’s teams had much to show for their efforts throughout the day, the weather was still the main concern on everyone’s mind.
‘The conditions aren’t very good, but you still do the best you can,’ said Barry. ‘[The men’s team is] definitely swimming a lot faster than these other teams … I’m pretty sure the guys will take [the invitational]. Compared to last year I think everybody’s gotten a lot faster.’
Assistant Swimming Coach Michelle Dienzo had similar feelings about the weather, but felt the team performed very well for the day.
‘The guys [did] a great job considering the conditions, and they’re getting in the water and racing and putting in a really good effort,’ Dienzo said.
Do was the top performer in Saturday’s events and even though the women’s team finished in second place in the sprint invitational, she still believed her team performed well.
‘I think we’re doing the best we can right now,’ Do said. ‘I think we’re pulling it off with the weather not being perfect. We’re doing really well, we’re staying positive, and we’re really sticking together as a team.’
At about 3 p.m. the diving portion of the invitational began.
Although UCI only had two female divers competing, junior Franny Brittle and freshman Jackie Jones clearly stood out from the rest of the competition that afternoon.
Both women finished in the top five out of the 12 finalists in the three-meter diving event, with Jones finishing in second place (410.80) and Brittle in fourth (398.75) for the first day of diving competition. UCI junior diver Anton Sloubonov placed first for the Anteaters in the men’s one-meter diving event, which qualified him for the NCAA Diving Regionals with his total of 544.65.
‘[The] first day of the UCI Diving invitational was cold and raining … which is not a good combination for optimum diving performance,’ UCI Diving Coach Curt Wilson said. ‘But through it all, the UCI divers showed skill and some necessary concentration to attain moments of brilliance as they battled the adverse conditions.’
The UCI Men won all three titles on Sunday, the first time it has ever been done and the women finished second after the University of Illinois.
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