The Bruins will take to the pool for the first time in 2019.
UCLA swim and dive (3-0) kicks off the new year at Spieker Aquatics Center on Monday in a doubleheader meet, where it will face off against unbeaten Harvard (3-0) and the San Diego (4-3).
UCLA competed against Harvard in both swimming and diving events earlier in the season at the Georgia Fall Invitational, but has yet to face San Diego.
Harvard swim and dive earned its three victories over Ivy League foes Cornell, Dartmouth and Columbia. It finished sixth in the Georgia Fall Invitational behind fifth-place UCLA and recently wrapped up competition at the Wally Nakamoto Diving Invitational in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Friday.
“(Harvard) has some great swimmers, especially from the local Southern California area,” said swimming coach Cyndi Gallagher. “So they’re definitely going to be a tough challenge.”
San Diego stumbled early on, but rattled off four consecutive wins over Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.
“San Diego is a smaller team, but they still have some talented swimmers that are going to make us work,” Gallagher said. “We’re going to have to win the really close races in order to win this meet.”
This will be the Bruins’ first action after a month of hard winter training and preparation for the upcoming year.
Despite the lengthy gap, Gallagher said she remains confident in the team’s ability to compete.
“When you train for 20 hours a week, that amount of focus really helps those basic, fundamental techniques become automatic habits,” Gallagher said. “I have lots of confidence in where we’re at right now. The girls are in a very competitive mode.”
Among the Bruin standouts from the Georgia invitational was freshman swimmer Claire Grover.
Grover – riding a top-13 finish of 22.44 seconds in the invite’s 50-yard freestyle and a team-best eighth place time of 1:1.08 in the 100-yard breaststroke – praised her coach’s ability to keep the girls fundamentally sharp, as well as the team’s desire to return to the pool.
“Coach (Gallagher) has given us a lot of time to reevaluate and work on our technique with starts and finishes, and also helped us take care of our bodies, rest and recuperate,” Grover said. “We’re definitely confident and eager to get back into it.”
Senior diver Traci Shiver finished second overall in the platform diving event in Georgia with a score of 241.00 and is set to participate in both the springboard and diving events during Monday’s doubleheader.
Shiver echoed Gallagher’s and Grover’s optimism heading into Monday’s meet.
“The Georgia invite was helpful because we got to see elite teams that we don’t normally face,” Shiver said. “Our coaches have been able to pinpoint more specific issues with our technique and allow us focus on them.”
The matchup will also feature the return of senior diver Eloise Belanger and redshirt senior diver Maria Polyakova to the Bruins’ arsenal.