The swimming and diving team will be split up once again.
No. 25 UCLA will send its swimming team to compete at the Texas Invitational from Wednesday to Saturday, and its diving team to the Georgia Fall Invitational from Friday to Sunday. These invitationals come after a two-week hiatus from competition.
Coach Cyndi Gallagher emphasized that hard work was necessary during the break, because UCLA has less time to practice as the school year starts in September, unlike others schools that start in August.
“We are just playing catch-up, which is kind of the reason why we go to this meet in December,” Gallagher said. “We don’t really rest.”
Senior swimmer Natalie Amberg, who will swim 500- and 200-yard freestyle and 200- and 100-yard backstroke, said that training at home during Thanksgiving break was not much different.
“It helps to go home, because there’s a lot of little kids, and they’re all looking up to you,” Amberg said. “You get to tell them what you’ve learned, and it helps you remember what you need to do yourself.”
The swimming team is also anticipating the return of senior swimmer Margaux Verger Gourson, who will be competing this week for the first time this season after recovering from back surgery.
“She’s been really diligent with her rehab, about coming to practice and doing everything that she needs to do to get back,” Gallagher said. “Everyone’s really excited that she’s going to go.”
Because the Georgia Fall Invitational follows a prelims-and-finals format, diving coach Tom Stebbins said that this meet is a great way for him to observe the way the divers bounce back from rigorous physical and mental training.
“I always use this meet in December as a way to look at how do people recover from work, what I need to do with them (and) develop a plan for them for the end of the year,” Stebbins said. “It’s a really good jumping-off point to see what they will look (like) at almost full strength.”
Having been free of competitions for two weeks, junior diver Eloise Belanger used the time to rework two of her dives on the 3-meter springboard. This will be the first time that she competes in more difficult dives this season.
“You’re competing against yourself in the end, and so you really have to focus on yourself, what you’re doing and everything, and then the results will just happen,” Belanger said. “You just have to focus on your dives because in the end, you’re alone up there on the board.”