By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
While the Grand Canyon University Club Swimming team has shown great strides from their inaugural season last year, perhaps the most impressive feat came during their inspiring performance at the recent CISCA UCLA Meet.
In early December, the Lopes traveled out to Los Angeles to compete against a plethora of noteworthy teams. These major competitors included teams from the University of Southern California, University of California-San Diego, University of California-Los Angeles, University of California-Davis, University of California-Irvine and Utah State University.
As Lopes’ Head Coach Jeremy Phung pointed out, “Most of the club teams we competed against have been well established programs for 3+ years, while we are only in the middle of our second year as a program.” Despite this gap in experience and reputation, however, the Lopes did exactly what they have been doing all year long – they exceeded expectations.
From an individual team standpoint, the GCU Club Swimming team continued their record-breaking season as they broke an astonishing 21 club records (15 individual and six relay). Even more impressive, though, was their success against the competition. The men’s team managed to snag a third-place finish, while the women’s team captured a first-place finish, by outscoring the next closest team by over 130 points. While the Lopes were clearly thrilled with their performances individually, the most impressive accolade came about through the combined team scores.
Holding a half-point lead over the competition, the Lopes edged out USC for a combined finish of first place. What’s even more impressive about this victory? The Lopes were shorthanded during the tournament.
“We took 12 females and six males to this meet,” explained Phung. “We had eight athletes that dropped out (at the) last minute from injuries or personal reasons, but had we brought those other six females and two males, I think we would have beaten those other teams significantly.”
Despite the lack of participants, Phung still found plenty of reasons to be excited for both the achievements of his athletes and the statement that they were able to make.
“It was just really nice to see the team all come together and compete at this level, and even though we were from out of state and it was our first time there, we really left a mark on them that day and put our name out there,” said Phung.
With this powerful showing under their belts, Phung is hopeful that the program will continue to improve and grow year after year.
“By winning this meet, I hope that it turns heads and gains interest in our program from other swimmers, and we can recruit more athletes with that same goal in mind,” said Phung. “Along with our growth as a program, we are hoping this success will legitimize our team in the club sports department.”
So far, the Christmas season has been very good to the GCU Club Swimming team. A handful of broken records, a first-place finish against prestigious competition and further validation of the team’s up-and-coming chance to be perennial contenders in the nation.
However, since it’s not Christmas quite yet, there may still be time for one more wish to be answered. In the words of Phung, “Maybe this success can bring talk about an aquatics complex on campus.”