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One Day to Go at Big West Swimming & Diving Championships; UCSB Women and Men Stand in Lead

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2/27/2009

Day three of the Big West Swimming & Diving Championships is a done deal and the UC Santa Barbara women and men stand in first place in their respective standings with one day left in the meet. The Championships are being held at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach, Calif.

The Gaucho women have the lead thanks to their point total of 623, with UC Davis in second after amassing 505 points and Pacific in third with 379 points. Cal Poly is the fourth place team in the standings with 321 tallies, while UC Irvine (272) and Cal State Northridge (161) round out the standings.

The UCSB men are in first place after picking up 565.5 points over the three days, outdistancing second place UC Davis, who has 554 points, and third place UC Irvine, who has amassed 397.5 points. In fourth place is Pacific with 310 points, while Cal Poly (248) and Cal State Northridge (160) complete the men’s side of the standings.

The first final of the day was the 400 individual medley, a daunting challenge for the competitors. The women's race saw Melissa McGee of Pacific touch the wall first in 4:18.37, while Scott Weltz of UC Davis won the men's race in a meet record time of 3:46.02. Weltz's mark was almost three seconds better than the previous mark set in 2005.

Next up was the 100 butterfly final and the UCSB women showed their strength in the event with a 1-2-3 finish. Naomi Javanifard was the top finisher for the UCSB women, completing the race in 54.37. UC Irvine's Randall Tom then electrified the crowd with his performance in the men's version of the race. Tom finished in 45.73, a Big West record and an NCAA 'A' qualifying time.

The 200 yard freestyle continued the nights furious pace, with Cal Poly's Gloria Benefield taking home the crown in the women's race thanks to a time of 1:48.89. On the men's side of the race, Joe Wood led a 1-2 finish for UC Santa Barbara after completing the event in 1:36.87. His time was an NCAA 'B' qualifying mark.

UC Davis' Heidi Kucera claimed her second individual title of the Championships after winning the next race, the 100 breaststroke. She set a Big West record with a time of 1:00.38, barely out-touching the former record holder, UC Santa Barbara's Katy Freeman, by .10 of a second. The men's race had a tie at the top spot as UC Irvine's Chris Rosales and UC Santa Barbara's Jeff Sudbury each touched the final wall in 54.76.

UCSB's Javanifard added to her championship haul in the next race as she topped the field in the 100 backstroke. Her time of 54.53 was an NCAA 'B' qualifying mark. The Gauchos made it a sweep in the event as Kevin Ferguson won the men's race with a time of 48.61.

The next focus on the meet was the diving area as the men's three-meter diving competition had its final round. UC Irvine's Miles Smith was the top scorer as he picked up 318.15 points, nearly 12 points better than the runner-up.

The final event of had a distinct Gaucho feel as UC Santa Barbara swept both the women's and men's 200 free relay. The UCSB women took the event in 1:30.52, setting a Big West record and picking up an NCAA 'B' qualifying time. Not to be outdone, the men also came through with a conference record and NCAA 'B' cut, finishing the race in 1:18.40.

The 2009 Big West Championships finish up tomorrow night with the finals of the remaining races and diving competitions set to commence at 2 pm.