After six months of competition, the UCLA swim and dive team has finally reached the end, and it’s what the Bruins have been waiting for all along.
To conclude their 2014-2015 season, members of the team travel to Greensboro, N.C., to compete in the NCAA championship meet this week.
“This is the meet they have been focusing on and training for since day one when our season began,” said coach Cyndi Gallagher.
The meet, taking place from Thursday to Saturday, will feature 10 Bruin athletes, including eight swimmers and two divers.
The 10 Bruins will be among 281 swimmers and 41 divers that will be present to compete at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. Among the many teams in attendance will be fellow conference members No. 1 Cal, No. 3 Stanford, No. 11 Arizona, No. 12 USC and Arizona State, who UCLA has already competed against this season.
The swimmers making the cross-country trip are freshman Katie Grover, sophomores Linnea Mack and Madison White, juniors Allison Wine and Katy Campbell, as well as seniors Noelle Tarazona, Ally Loper and Monica Dornick.
The swimmers will be accompanied by freshman diver Maria Polyakova and sophomore diver Annika Lenz, who will both make their first appearances at the NCAA championships after earning qualifying spots with their performances at the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships this past week.
“It’s a really good group and there is great chemistry. Having a group of 10 going is really exciting,” Gallagher said.
This is the second time this year the swimmers have made the trip to Greensboro after having competed at the same venue for the AT&T Winter National Championships, where they took home first place in the team ranking, making the pool a more comfortable environment for the Bruins.
For Tarazona, both the pool and the championship-style meet will be familiar territory. Having raced in this meet and at this pool before, she said she knows what kind of atmosphere to expect.
“There’s a lot of fast swimming,” Tarazona said. “It’s fun to watch everyone else race, but you still have to be at your best. The competition level is really high, but at the same time there is a really good amount of energy, so it’s a really good place to swim.”
Unlike Tarazona, Lenz will be attending the meet for the first time, something she said she is proud to have accomplished.
“This was one of my goals this season,” Lenz said. “I’m just ready to go out there and try to do the best I can and try not to be too nervous.”
Having worked all season for this meet, Gallagher said the girls have prepared themselves for the best possible performances they have in them, and she is ready to see what they will accomplish.
“They really have done everything they can do, so now they are just working at getting all the distractions out of their minds and just going there and having fun,” Gallagher said.