Photo by: Ken Grosse/UCSD Athletics
Don't miss Saturday's highly-anticipated showdown between breaststroke specialists Nicholas Korth and Eetu Karvonen.
Busy Month Begins with Pair of Home Dates for UCSD Swimming & Diving
Release: Thursday 01/03/2013 

vs. Grand Canyon, Cal State East Bay (women only)
Saturday, Jan. 5 • 12 p.m.
Canyonview Pool • La Jolla

vs. San Jose State (women only)
Sunday, Jan. 6 • 11 a.m.
Canyonview Pool • La Jolla

The UC San Diego men's and women's swimming and diving teams begin a busy stretch this week in which they face seven meet dates in a five-week stretch, with six of them at home inside the Canyonview Aquatic Center. The string begins this weekend with a pair of home meets, beginning with a double-dual against NCAA Division II foes Grand Canyon and Cal State East Bay on Saturday, Jan. 5, at noon. The UCSD women then play host to Division I opponent San Jose State on Sunday, Jan. 6, with the first swimming event scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Entry into all UCSD swimming and diving meets is free of charge.

Both the UCSD men and women are 1-1 in dual meets this season.

The second of three national poll releases by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) for NCAA Division II for the 2012-13 season was released on Dec. 19. In it, the UCSD women and men are rated third and fifth, respectively, down from first and third in the Nov. 14 installment.

Grand Canyon, from Phoenix, Ariz., is a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). The Antelope men are ranked third in the latest CSCAA Division II poll, while the women are sixth. The Grand Canyon men and women each placed fifth behind UCSD at the 2012 NCAA Division II Championships in Mansfield, Texas. This year, the men are off to a perfect 3-0 start in dual meets, with the women currently at 2-2. The ledger for the men included an impressive 133-128 win at Division I in-state rival Arizona State. Needing a first-place finish in the meet-concluding 400 free relay, the ‘Lopes men achieved just that to edge the Sun Devils. Senior Eetu Karvonen and junior Everton Kida swept the breaststroke and backstroke events, respectively. The GCU men then later won their third straight Husky Invitational last month.

This marks the fifth straight season in which UCSD has hosted Grand Canyon in a dual in La Jolla. Last year on Jan. 7, the Triton men fell to the Antelopes for the first time, 146-116, following three previous victories. The UCSD women have gone 4-0 against GCU during the same stretch. The Antelope head coach is Steve Schaffer.

Saturday's meet will feature a marquee match-up between breaststroke specialists Nicholas Korth of UCSD and Eetu Karvonen of Grand Canyon. Karvonen, a senior from Finland, got the better of the Tritons' junior captain in their most recent and most important meeting to date, the 2012 NCAA Championships in Mansfield, Texas. Karvonen won the 100 breast in 53.29, with Korth touching third in 53.79. Those placements repeated in the 200 breast on the final day, with Karvonen racing 1:56.11, a new Division II record, and Korth behind him in third in 1:57.45. Korth did post a better prelim time in that event, swimming 1:57.72 in the morning, second-fastest, with Karvonen fourth-fastest at 1:58.46.

In the championship final of the 400 medley relay, Korth's breaststroke leg timed 53.63, while Karvonen went 52.69 to give the Antelopes a lead they would not relinquish, edging the Tritons by a mere .09 seconds as the teams placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the event.

Karvonen previously swept the breaststroke events in last year's dual meeting in La Jolla, with times of 55.11 and 2:00.70. Korth touched second behind him in both races in 56.36 and 2:02.12.

Korth's match-up with Karvonen will lead him into another premier home meeting, with Thiago Parravicini of Incarnate Word the following week on Friday, Jan. 11.

Cal State East Bay, from Hayward, only has a women's swimming program, and like UCSD, is a member of the Pacific Collegiate Swimming & Diving Conference (PCSC). The Pioneers wound up fifth at the 2012 PCSC Championships behind the first-place Tritons. CSUEB is 5-1 in dual meets, having most recently dropped a 160-99 decision at Division I Nevada in late November prior to a fourth-place showing at the UNLV Winter Invitational last month. The East Bay head coach is Ben Loorz.

The Division I women of San Jose State are the defending Western Athletic Conference (WAC) champions. They take a 2-1 record into a double-dual Friday in Bakersfield. At this season's Arena Invitational in November, the Spartans placed fifth with 654 points, 306 ahead of the ninth-place Tritons. Marisa DeWames, the 2012 WAC Swimmer of the Year, turned in the fastest preliminary time in the 50 (22.80) before placing sixth in finals (23.20). She repeated that performance in the 100 free on the final day, posting the fastest time in morning prelims (49.52), matching a two-year-old meet record, ahead of a sixth-place swim in the evening final (50.14). Fellow senior Julia Craddock had a pair of top-six finishes, in the 400 IM (4th; 4:17.55) in front of Triton captain Beth Dong (6th; school-record 4:18.01), and the 200 fly (6th; 1:59.92). Sage Hopkins, the 2012 WAC Coach of the Year, is in his eighth season in charge of the Spartans.

Saturday's double-dual meet will feature a standard collegiate 13-event format. The 11-event swim program will be as follows: 400 medley relay, 1000 free, 200 free, 50 free, 400 IM, 200 fly, 100 free, 200 back, 500 free, 200 breast and 400 free relay. Two short breaks will be taken after the 400 IM and 500 free. The finalized program for Sunday's women's meet was unavailable at press time.

Individual events during this weekend's meets will be scored to five places (1st-9; 2nd-4; 3rd-3; 4th-2; 5th-1). Relays will be scored to three places (1st-11; 2nd-4; 3rd-2). No more than three individuals or two relay foursomes per team can accumulate points in a given event. On Saturday, swimmers are permitted to compete in a maximum of three events (in any combination of individual and/or relay events).

Eleven Tritons are currently qualified automatically for the 2013 NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships in Birmingham, Ala., March 6-9. Those athletes are Beth Dong, Olivia Fountain, Nicholas Korth, Sierra Robbins, Anji Shakya, Dane Stassi, Amber Tan, Naomi Thomas, Katherine Tse, Dari Watkins and junior diver Luke Calkins.

Nicholas Korth's season-best mark in the 200 breaststroke of 1:58.18 was second-fastest among swimmers of all divisions at the time that he posted it on the final day of the Arena Invitational on Nov. 17. It now ranks 22nd among all divisions and third in the NCAA Division II, behind only Incarnate Word's Thiago Parravicini (1:54.67), who he will face on Jan. 11, and Grand Canyon's Eetu Karvonen (1:58.05), who he takes on this Saturday, Jan. 5.

Korth also ranks third in Division II in the 100 breast (54.21), again behind Parravicini (53.04) and Karvonen (53.31). Teammate Dane Stassi tops the Division II leaderboard in the 200 butterfly (1:45.65), ahead of Grand Canyon senior Ivan Nechunaev (1:48.16), Saturday's opponent, in fourth. Stassi is third in the 100 fly (48.13), with Nechunaev right behind in fourth (48.27).

On the women's side, captain Beth Dong is fastest among Division II swimmers in the 400 IM (4:18.01), with fellow senior Olivia Fountain third in the 100 fly (54.95).

The Triton men finished third out of nine teams and the women were ninth of 13 among a full Division I field at the 2012 Arena Invitational in Long Beach back in mid-November. Both squads have been idle from competition since. Among three individual event victories, all on the men's side, Nicholas Korth swept the two breaststroke distances, and Dane Stassi won the 200 fly in a school-record 1:45.65, an NCAA automatic qualifier. A total of four school records were broken during the three-day meet, by Stassi (100 fly, 200 fly), Beth Dong (400 IM) and Olivia Fountain (100 fly).

Team captains for the 2012-13 season were voted on at the conclusion of the prior year, with Nicholas Korth, fellow junior Anji Shakya, and seniors Beth Dong and Julius Espiritu earning that distinction.

After Sunday's women's meet with San Jose State, UCSD will be in home action twice again the following weekend. The Triton men and women will all be in the water on Friday, Jan. 11, hosting top Division II competition in Incarnate Word and Missouri S&T (men only) at 2 p.m. The following afternoon at 12 p.m., the Tritons welcome back the Missouri S&T men, as well as Division I opponents Cal State Bakersfield and LMU (women only).

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