March 22, 2003 9:00 p.m.
AUBURN “”mdash; In front of a vocal crowd at the James E. Martin
Aquatics Center at Auburn University, the UCLA swim and dive team
jumped out to a fast start at the 2003 NCAA Championships. The
Bruins are in ninth place as a team after day one of the three-day
meet. UCLA, swimming in the first heat of the first event of the
first day, upset Southern Methodist University and Wisconsin to
qualify for the 200-yard freestyle relay finals. The relay team,
comprised of Sara Platzer, Kim Vandenberg, Erica Shugart and Malin
Svahnstrom, swam the event in 1:31.51. The time was good enough for
eighth place in the qualifying heat and a bid to the finals. That
team was the only UCLA finalist on the first day. In the evening
finals, the Bruin’s 200y free relay again surprised
spectators, this time by beating out Michigan for seventh place.
The one-place improvement on their seed was crucial to UCLA’s
team points, which are doubled for relays. Platzer swam the fastest
split on the relay squad, covering her 50y-leg of the race in 22.10
seconds. The 200y free was not the only impressive Bruin
performance in the pool. UCLA had two individuals, as well as the
400y medley relay, qualify for consolation finals and sophomore
Lindsay Smart swam a lifetime-best 2:02.4 in the 200y IM.
“Lindsay improving her lifetime best was today’s
highlight,” head coach Cyndi Gallagher said. “It shows
you that she really wants to swims her hardest always.” The
Bruin’s 400y Medley relay, which had a solid nine seed coming
into Thursday, swam a disappointing two seconds behind their
qualifying time. Despite impressive splits by junior Taylor Spivey
at backstroke (54.48) and junior Leslie Hovsepian at breaststroke
(1:02.04), the relay qualified in 14th place. “Everything
that could have gone wrong with the 400 yard medley relay
did,” Gallagher said. “But I am looking forward to the
consolation finals; we have a decent seed and room to
improve.” And improve they did. The relay team improved its
time by over a second, which was good for 12th place. Accompanying
the 10 UCLA swimmers was a lone diver, senior Regan Gosnell.
Gosnell qualified for the National meet after placing fourth in the
one-meter, fifth in the three-meter, and seventh on the platform at
the NCAA Zone E Championships. On Thursday, Gosnell competed in the
one-meter springboard and placed a solid 20th with a score of
254.65. “I was a little nervous,” the senior said.
“But I am really looking forward to the three-meter
tomorrow.” Competition continues tomorrow at the Martin
Aquatics Center at 11 am CST.