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UCLA swim and dive teams host first-ever home meet in Spieker Aquatics Center

Bruins to host their first-ever home meet in recently constructed Spieker Aquatics Center

UCLA’s swimming and diving teams resume their 2009-2010 campaign today with their first competition of 2010.

And with three squads competing in the Spieker Aquatics Center’s first swimming and diving meet, today’s triple dual meet against Kansas and Fresno State figures to include plenty of firsts.

Today’s meet is the first-ever swimming and diving event at the Spieker Aquatics Center and also marks the first time swimming and diving will compete at the same location.

The swim team will now call the Dirks Pool at the Spieker Aquatics Center home after more than two decades at the Men’s Gym Pool at the Student Activities Center. For diving, contests were previously held at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.

“It’s great to come here. We’re so proud of the pool, and it’s so beautiful,” swim coach Cyndi Gallagher said. “We can do so much more with this pool ““ it’s awesome.”

Diving coach Tom Stebbins added that the new facilities for diving have definitely improved the progression of his team.

Spieker boasts two 3-meter and two 1-meter springboards, plus a full tower for platform diving, as opposed to Sunset Rec, which had just one 3-meter and one 1-meter board. To practice for platform events, Stebbins and the team had to commute to Pasadena.

“They have done more work and are further along than any other group I’ve had before,” Stebbins said. “And it’s just because we have so much equipment to use.”

Gallagher’s team (3-1) has not competed in a dual meet since Nov. 14, 2009 at Arizona. Since then, the team has competed in the Toshiba Classic and the USA Short Course Nationals.

The team will look to build off the impressive performances of seniors Isabell Fischer and Kirsten Byers; juniors Lauren Hall, Dani Milligan and Brittany Beauchan; sophomores Bianca Casciari and Yasi Jahanshahi; and freshmen Lindsey Marchand and Emily Andelson, who posted NCAA qualifying times at nationals and helped three relay teams pick up qualifiers.

“Big invitationals are an opportunity to prepare,” Gallagher said. “But I like the intimacy of a dual meet.”

The 2009 portion of the season saw two out of the four divers pick up NCAA qualifiers. Junior Karina Silva picked up the necessary scores on platform and on the 3-meter, while junior Laura Winn also qualified on platform. Freshmen Michelle Vale and Maggy Boyd have yet to post qualifying scores, but that doesn’t worry Stebbins.

“I really think that Michelle and Maggy are knocking on the door,” he said.

The meet against Kansas (2-3) and Fresno State (1-3) is the last non-conference dual meet for both teams before Pac-10 dual meets start, but Gallagher insisted this meet is just as important as any other in the long run.

“Everything’s a warm-up until the Pac-10 championships,” Gallagher said. “The dual meets are great, but it doesn’t really matter what you score. You could win every dual meet and be bad at Pac-10s and NCAAs, and it doesn’t matter. You were bad.”

But, Gallagher added that she is very excited for competition to begin.

“The pool is gorgeous, and it’s fast,” Gallagher said. “Well, we’ll find out how fast it is.”

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