It may have been raining on the last day of the Arena Invitational, but the bigger splashes were being made inside the confines of the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool.
It is a pool that has played host to countless Olympians, and the Bruins were looking inspired.
“I really like the Belmont pool ““ it’s kind of gross and old, but there’s something about it that makes you swim fast,” freshman Jesse Bergman said.
Whatever the reason, the Bruins enjoyed their most successful weekend of the season so far, earning a fifth-place finish while posting 56 season-best times and nine NCAA “B”-cuts.
The invitational, which was hosted by UC San Diego, was the first championship-style meet of the season, pitting the Bruins against 18 other teams, including Pac-10 powerhouses Cal and Stanford, both of whom UCLA will face in January.
But as odd as it seems, UCLA didn’t enter this meet aiming for victory.
Tired and sore from a grueling practice schedule, the team’s goal was not success in individual meets, but rather constant, gradual improvement throughout the season.
“We’re not trying to get lifetime bests until we’re rested,” junior Yasi Jahanshahi said. “We’re just trying to get a season best every time we get in the pool.”
Jahanshahi did just that.
She marked her best times of the season in both butterfly events, earning sixth place in the 100-yard with a time of 54.48 and fourth in the 200-yard with a time of 1:58.37.
Other meet standouts included senior Brittany Beauchan, who placed fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:01.95 and fifth in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:13.60, and the squad of freshman sprinters, which includes Bergman, Cynthia Fascella, Anna Senko and Kathryn Murphy, who shone in their first real college meet.
“This was our first meet against a bunch of other teams, and there was just a ton of Bruin spirit,” Bergman said. “Everyone was cheering for each other, so that was really cool.”
With the home portion of their season already finished, the Bruins hope to carry momentum into the rest of the season, which is geared toward training for what is always the ultimate goal: the NCAA Championships in March.
“We’re just kind of maintaining until finals are over, and then it’s “˜hell week’ ““ holiday training season,” said coach Cyndi Gallagher. “That’s when we start getting ready for our real racing season: February and March.”