Starting Saturday, March 6 through Sunday, March 14, UCSD swimmers and divers will write a daily blog, reporting from the NCAA Division II Championships in Canton, OH. Check in everyday to get a behind the scenes view of Championship Week.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Tonight was all about people stepping up and having huge swims, but before we get to tonight we need to go back to last night. Besides a few outstanding individual swims (i.e. Alex Henley's 400 I.M.), the team had definitely been underperforming to say the least. This led us to our team meeting last night. To say the coaches were unhappy with our performance as a team to that point would be a gross understatement. I'll leave out the details for the sake of all the children reading this, but everything they said was well-deserved. After our meeting it became readily apparent that something needed to change, and quickly.

This leads us to this morning. There was a different attitude about the team this morning and I knew something good was going to happen. After all was said and done this morning, we had multiple people in championship finals and many in the consolation finals. The team definitely turned a corner today and I am proud of how we responded to a subpar beginning of the meet. After the morning the team was definitely more confident and looked ready to move up in the standings.

This brings us to this evening. I don't want to shortchange anyone, but everyone in the 200 fly was the talk of the night. In qualifying for the championship finals as a freshman, no small feat in itself, Shaun Stringer went a best time in the morning. He then swam a much smarter race in finals and placed 7th. For the women Karla Holman had one of the best swims I have ever seen out of her. She is the epitome of mental toughness and time and time again throws down huge swims in the 200 fly when her team needs it (her second best event). Swimming for the last time in her career, tonight was no different as she moved up three places and went a best time. That set the table for Alex's 200 fly. This swim was only the third time she swam it this year. And not only did she win, she dominated. She won by two seconds, leading from the first 25 to the last, and beat the national record holder by three seconds. The funny thing is she has been trying to decide whether to swim the 100 back or the 200 fly this day for a month. And for the past month I told her to go with the 100 back because, though I did not doubt her heart or conditioning, she is swimming one of the toughest schedules possible and even she can get tired and the 100 back is much easier than the 200 fly (considered one of the hardest events). So I was wrong. Horribly wrong. As you know she chose the 200 fly and embarrassed the rest of the field. I almost think she did it just to spite me. OK, maybe that wasn't why she won, but from now on I think I'll stick to things I know--like sprint free.

This brings us to the last day. Tomorrow is the event I think I am most looking forward to. The 100 freestyle. There are two sprinters whom I have swam against for the past four years (Mason Norman of Wingate and Radu Badalaac of Ouachita Baptist) who are having great meets. They have been in the mix for the 50 and 100 free crowns for the past three years and this year is no different. We respect each other a lot and they are the reason I look forward to Division II nationals. That having been said, I have won the 100 for the past two years and am going to take it for the third year in a row. If that sounds arrogant, so be it. They have never beat me in a head-to-head race in any distance for the past three years and this year will be no different.

Dan Perdew is a senior psychology major (Marshall College) from La Verne, CA.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Today was the first day of competition and it was a relief to put all the anxiousness that has been building up behind us.  We started the day with the same schedule as we have had the past two days, so waking up and getting breakfast wasn't too different.  But once we arrived at the pool it was time to get serious and start thinking about our races.  We did our normal stretching routine then the coaches talked to us about the competition.  We all got in and did our warm-ups.  The first event was the 200 medley relay.  Our women's relay of Anju Mercedes Jessica, and Katherine went fast enough to place them in the championship finals heat, so we were all proud of them.  Our men's relay was DQ'd for an early relay exchange, which was a tough blow to the whole team.  But, as a team we didn't let this affect us and we moved on to support each other the rest of the morning session. 

The next event after the relays was the 200 im. On the girls side Neda (Nguyen), Cari (Cunningham), Karla (Holman), Casey (Adams), and Michelle (McVadden) all did well, but missed making finals.  Alex (Henley) had a great swim putting herself into third going into finals.  Sam (Duimovich)dropped a second and a half off his personal best time, but didn't qualify for finals.  After the IM, it was the 50 free.  Anju, Amber, Jessica and Shea all swam well.  Dan (Perdew), Todd (Langland), Sam (Stromberg) and Blake (Langland) swam with Dan and Todd making it back to the finals and consoles respectively.  Next was the 1000 freestyle with Jeremy (Barnett-Woods), Kyle (Begovich), Megan (Thomas) and myself all  (Dong) swimming in the morning while Beth would be swimming at night in the final heat.  Since this is such a long race, they do not have prelims and finals but what's called a "timed final" where everyone swims once with the best time winning. We all swam well in the morning and we just had to wait for the evening heats to see what place we would end up.

Once the morning session was over we had some Subway and went to the hotel to rest for finals.  When we got to the pool for finals it was easy to see the competitive nature of the NCAA championships.  First up was Beth in the 1000.  She did well and ended up seventh.  Then Alex was up.  She had a very exciting race with the whole team behind her lane cheering.  She was leading for most of the race and got out-touched at the end to finish up in second place which was still a great race.  Next Todd was up in the consolation finals for the 50 free in lane 1.  Todd won his heat with a great time.  Then Dan took the blocks in the finals heat, seeded second. With the most exciting twenty seconds of the meet, he won another national champ title--his fourth.  The last race of the day for the Tritons was the girls' 200 medley relay.  With a very close race against two teams that broke the meet record the girls ended up fourth.  Overall I think the whole team was happy with today's competition.  It had its ups-and-downs, but we're all optimistic about the next three days.  As a team we usually get better towards the end of the meet and we plan to start tomorrow by having an exceptional day putting both our women and men's team in striking distance of some NCAA trophies.

Chris Baier is a junior economics major (Warren College) from Northridge, CA.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Today we only went to the pool once due to the NCAA Welcome Dinner held in downtown Canton. As we drove through downtown we noticed that most of it was closed. This came as a huge shock to us-almost as shocking as all the ice and snow that we saw when we landed. While at the pool today we warmed up and did some pace as well as dives and sprints. It was our last time in the pool before competition. Everyone is starting to get nervous, but also excited. I know that the team is prepared to swim faster than they ever have before. I am so excited to race and watch my teammates race in a meet that we have been preparing for since September.

After warming up we watched the first part of the dive-in, which is where the divers have to re-qualify for the meet by placing in the top 16 of their gender. Tyler (Runsten) re-qualified for both the one and three-meter boards, while Pat (Cohen) re-qualified for the three. It was fun to watch and cheer on our teammates for the first part of the meet. While we were watching the divers, Matt went and got our lunch, Chipotle, and brought it back to the pool for us to enjoy. After watching part of the dive-in, we returned to the hotel to shave, rest, and maybe think about doing some homework.

Dinner itself was quite delicious and consisted of rolls, salad, steamed vegetables, two kinds of pasta, chicken, meatballs, and apple pie. The apple pie became a controversial topic when (Dan) Perdew announced that he did not like pie and that "fruit and bread should NEVER go together." Many of us disagreed with the three-time national champion despite his adamant statement about the pie.

The mayor of Canton also stopped by our table to welcome us and ask if there was anything he could do for us. Anju (Shimura) politely responded and told him that the pool was a little chilly and was wondering if he could heat the pool by a degree or two. To our surprise he said that he could do that for us. Us San Diego kids aren't used to the icy chill of the air, or the water for that matter. After dinner we returned to the hotel to rest and get ready for the first day of swimming competition.

Alex Henley is a sophomore educational studies major (Warren College) from Thousand Oaks, CA.


Monday, March 8, 2010



Off to the Pool
Today was our first full day in Ohio.  Waking up this morning was especially hard because we are still adjusting to the three hour time change.  After rolling out of bed at what felt like the middle of the night (since it was really 4:30 AM California time), we headed down for team breakfast at the hotel.  Our team is normally extremely talkative and full of laughter, but the loudest people sitting in the breakfast room were the coaches.  Everyone finally started to wake up when we headed to the pool for our first swim of the day.  The morning warm up was more like a practice but it felt good to loosen up in the water.  The water temperature is a bit chilly and it takes a while to get warm after diving in the pool.  It is different swimming in an indoor pool after training all year outdoors.  When you walk through the door you can smell the distinct smell of your wonderful friend, chlorine, but seeing the snow outside on the ground makes you appreciate being at an indoor pool.  Our afternoon swim was not quite as long as the morning swim and we worked on our dives and relay starts.  Other teams glared at us while we were in the water because we were taking up four out of the eight lanes in the competition pool.   

Road Adventures 
We had some exciting adventures as we got to explore a little bit of Canton while driving to lunch and dinner.  The unplanned "detour" our coach, Corrie Falcon, took us on going to dinner let us see some of the neighborhoods and countryside.  We also made a stop at a small local grocery store to stock up on food and shaving supplies.  Most people loaded up on snacks and Gatorade to make it through the week ahead. 

Down Time & Getting Ready to Race
We had a few hours of down time at the hotel during the day between swimming and in the evening after dinner.  People made use of the free time by resting, watching television, hanging out or going in the hotel jacuzzi.  Everyone is really excited for the meet to start but you have to try to conserve your energy and save it for your races. 

The excitement of being at Nationals and preparing for my races is beginning to build up.  Today more teams arrived at the pool, including Drury--who won last year--and everyone is starting to get more excited for the meet.  We all have high expectations to swim fast here which is both nerve-wracking and exciting.  I am most excited for the 200 medley relay which is the last event on Wednesday.  Last year our team won that event and we have three of the same people swimming on that relay at Nationals again this year.  Our goal is to get to stand on the top of the podium for the second year in a row.  Being a part of any relay is exciting, but nothing else can top the adrenaline rush of racing for first place.  We still have one more day to get prepared for the meet but then it's time to bring our "A" game and get ready to race.

Jessica Ferguson is a junior molecular biology major (Warren College) from Loomis, CA.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Today we flew into Ohio with a quick lay-over in Las Vegas. The coolest part of the flight was to see Lake Erie frozen over. It took us a while to figure out it was ice though. We landed with snow on the ground-it was cold at first but not too bad... especially with our new parkas, which are awesome!! Shea Kopp-"I think I'm allergic to Ohio." So true.

We stopped quickly to drop our bags at the hotel and headed off to the pool. It was a bad first impression because it's at a high school (and indoors which we Californians aren't really used to) but the pool ended up being really nice. The brand new diving boards feel awesome. There is only one three-meter which makes the waiting line very long especially with the water being so cold-awesome for the swimmers, but stinks for the divers.

We get to practice tomorrow and we'll make the best out of that time because our dive-in is the next day. We're feeling pretty nervous to make the top 16 at the dive-in on Tuesday, but we felt pretty strong at our short practice today so we'll see what happens.

Tyler Runsten is a freshman language studies major (Sixth College) from Rocklin, CA.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Tomorrow is the big day. We'll wake up at 5:45 am, make a phone call to ensure that our "wake up buddies" didn't miss their alarms, and head to campus to board the bus that will shuttle us to the airport. You would expect the group would be quiet and half asleep, but instead we are the exact opposite...full of excitement and energy. As a senior, this will be my fourth year making the trip to nationals. I am still just as nervous and excited as I was my freshman year.

Imagine, if you will, that you are a UCSD varsity swimmer. You've spent the entire year training for this meet and suddenly its here. What do you pack? How do you prepare? You've done the training, now it's up to you to make it to the pool with everything you need to swim fast. After finishing my LAST PRACTICE EVER in Canyonview Pool, I headed home to pack the necessities for the trip. If you want to be ready to swim fast and have fun-here's the complete guide of what to bring:

Item 1: Your new LZR Elite Suit
Its paper thin, and nearly impossible to get on, but it will make you feel faster in the water than you've ever felt in your life. When you first look at your new suit, don't be worried if it looks about half the size it should be. It's up to you to somehow stretch and pull (without ruining your taper) until the straps are finally over your shoulders. You may be thinking-how bad can it be? It's a suit. Ask any of the girls who traveled to nationals in Houston last year. They'll tell you how each of us worked through 45 minutes of sweat and maybe a few tears just to get it on the first time. The new LZR Elites are slightly different than the original LZR (think back to the 2008 Olympics), but their job is to make you a streamlined, super swimmer. Once you dive into the water for the first time you realize it's all worth it.

Item 2: Your UCSD Shirts and Warm-ups
Congratulations, for the next seven days (during the few hours a day you are actually dry and not in a suit) your UCSD clothes will be your new wardrobe. Now we are even more stylish with new Triton jerseys. We are ready to intimidate the competition as we march onto the pool deck looking like a team. It's time to represent and let people know who we are. Make sure you wash them before you leave, because you'll be spending a lot of time in these clothes.

Item 3: Your new Parka
A parka is like a giant, portable sleeping bag. It is your cozy spot while hanging out on an often chilly pool deck. To most swimmers a parka is essential. They are so comfortable, warm, and fuzzy that some swimmers go as far as to wear them when they aren't on the pool deck (I think some day they'll catch on like Ugg boots did and everyone will be wearing one). I'm sure the coaches will tell you that they've been asked, at least once a day, for the past month if we could get parkas for nationals. Despite our skepticism, we never gave up.

During stretching this morning, we asked one more time (as a joke more than anything). We still got the same laugh from the coaches which left us with no hope that we would actually be getting a parka. Then suddenly our assistant coach Matt walked into the room and said, "We have a little surprise for you guys". Following Matt, came our coach Corrie, who was modeling the latest and first-ever UCSD Triton Swimming parka. Jaws dropped in excitement, and we even began to applaud (you would think we just won conference again by the way we were cheering). As it turns out, this is something Corrie has wanted to do for years. She was just as excited as we were to finally make it a reality. Golden and fuzzy on the inside, and light blue on the outside, these parkas will defend us from even the coldest Ohio weather. Not to mention, we've already started daydreaming about how it will look when our swimmers walk out for finals wearing these with the hood up, iPod on, warm and ready to swim fast. Watch out come the Tritons.

Item 4: Your tan
Never underestimate the power of the "tan." The majority of Division II schools are somewhere much colder than San Diego, forcing them to swim indoors for most of the year. We on the other hand, get healthy vitamin D every day. Yes, the tan lines are not the most attractive when you are at the beach (especially when you get tans from three or four different suits), but we've taken advantage of the sunlight in the past couple weeks of training and are proud to show it.  Let's just say (for those of you who can watch the live video online)-you can easily spot the UCSD swimmers. 

Item 5: Your razor (crucial)
Most swimmers won't shave their legs for at least four weeks before competition. Enough said. 

Item 6: A little love from your teammates
This morning was the traditional national team send-off breakfast. The entire team comes to Canyon Vista (Warren's dining hall), for the first time since conference, to wish the nationals swimmers good luck. When you swim doubles with your teammates, then don't see them for even a few days, it feels like forever! So naturally a few weeks can make a team reunion sentimental, a little crazy, and exciting because of the events to come.

Item 7: Your parents and family
Family members are often some of the loudest, craziest, and most intense fans. Yes, they are our parents, and I don't know where we'd be without them. Armed with blue and gold pom-poms and bright yellow shirts, they fill the stands every morning and night of the meet. Nationals could be in the middle of nowhere (or even Canton, Ohio), and they would still find a way to make it out there. They dance whenever there's music, cheer for every race, and take pictures like it's nobody's business. Embarrassing? Maybe. Entertaining? Yes! (anyone recall a few parents dressing up in Speedos last year?). The love and support we need to swim our best? Definitely!

So that's it! We are packed and ready to go, and I know everyone is feeling fast. We've done countless sprints in our home pool, and now it's time to take that speed to Canton and show the other teams what we've got. Get ready. It's going to be a great week. Go Tritons!!

Karla Holman is a senior computer science major (Warren College) from Seattle, WA.