By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
On Saturday, March 3, the Grand Canyon University Club Swimming team traveled to the University of California, Los Angeles, to compete in the UCLA CISCSA meet for the second time this season. In their first appearance in December, the Lopes put together an impressive performance as their men’s and women’s teams combined to claim a first-place finish. Despite their best efforts this time around, however, a repeat performance eluded the Lopes as they settled for fifth place overall.
Although finishing lower than in their previous competition, Lopes’ Head Coach Jeremy Phung explained how the team’s overall placement this time wasn’t due to a lack of performance.
“The main difference this meet as compared to last meet was the number of athletes mainly from our men’s team,” said Phung. “Last time around, we had 6 guys rather than two, which means that we didn’t have any relay teams in this meet. The great thing about relays is that it doubles your score, so instead of 20 points for first place in an individual meet, we would’ve had 40 points for a relay.”
While attendance numbers were a vital aspect of the team’s overall performance over the weekend, Phung was still able to identify areas that his athletes can improve on individually.
“Pacing is huge for us to work on,” he explained. “It is difficult because everybody can take the first 50 in a 100 free fast, but it depends on who is able to come back at that speed to determine who is going to win. Based off of our splits, we were just dying off at the back half of each race, which made it difficult for us to finish strong.”
Even with the lack of attendance, there remains one area of the GCU Club Swimming team that never seems to fade. According to senior swimmer Garrett Hunt, who was competing in her very last meet with GCU, it’s the strong community that makes the team so special and successful. Despite breaking four individual records and two club records while competing at UCLA, Hunt discussed what moments she remembered the most.
“This was one of my most memorable competitions because the whole team was supporting one another,” said Hunt. “In my 200 breaststroke, which is my toughest event, the team was at both ends of the pool cheering me on with every single stroke, and that’s honestly what kept me going.”
Phung echoed Hunt’s sentiments, pointing out how important travel meets such as these are to his athletes.
“I really think this meet was a huge morale boost for the team,” explained Phung. “Travel meets are always fun because you just spend so much time with the team outside of the pool, and you get to know each other better, and we just hype each other up more for each and every event.”
With continued growth in team chemistry and proven competitive success, the hopes are high for the still young club swimming team.
“I think that the team is going to grow tremendously within the next few years-with the way we are placing in competitions against bigger schools such as UCLA and USC-as it is very attractive to new recruits,” explained Hunt. “Additionally, I think that we have a great group of freshmen (soon to be sophomores) on the team who are ready to step up next year and be leaders.”
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