After a stretch of dual meets, the No. 19 UCLA swim team took on its first invitational of the season, the A3 Performance Invitational, finishing in second place in a field of 15 teams behind San Diego State University.
The meet took place from Thursday to Saturday at East Los Angeles College, featuring many races where the Bruins were able to show off their talents. The three-day event held six sessions of races; preliminary rounds each morning and finals each night.
The invitational-style meet posed a new dynamic for the Bruins who so far this season have only competed in dual meets.
“You have to be present and engaged for three days straight,” said coach Cyndi Gallagher. “It isn’t easy, but you just have to roll with it. You have to let nothing stop you from reaching your goal.”
Senior Noelle Tarazona said competing in an invitational provided an extra kind of enthusiasm that isn’t present at dual meets.
“It’s a bigger-scale meet. There’s a lot more competition, and a lot more swimmers,” Tarazona said. “Having preliminaries and finals feels really exciting when you get to hear them announce your name before the race and have your teammates and fans cheering you on.”
Tarazona, who placed first in the 200-yard butterfly, was just one of the many Bruin swimmers who made the finals. While the Bruins had a number of second-place finishes, they also got to see three of their own take first place. Along with Tarazona, sophomore Madison White came in first in the 200-yard backstroke and junior Allison Wine placed first in the 100-yard breaststroke when she finished in 1:01.14, about two seconds faster in her finals race than in her preliminary round.
More than the first-place finishes were the many personal bests set by the team, which Wine said she considered to be the overall highlight of the meet for the Bruins.
“I was very impressed with all the seasonal best times,” Wine said. “Especially with the hard week of races we just finished, I think we are all in good shape for Pac-12’s right now.“
Despite all of the best times, Gallagher understands there is still a lot of work to be done for the remainder of the season, as she believes there is a lot more than just quickness that makes for a good swim.
“We worked really hard to put our speed together, now we just have to focus on combining our speed with the details of racing. We have to work on the details,” Gallagher said.