San Diego Colleges / Rick Hazeltine : UCSD Swimmers Closing the Gap
It seems as if UC San Diego’s swimming program always has been chasing Kenyon College. But in recent years, the Tritons have begun to challenge Kenyon, a perennial Division III powerhouse.
“Kenyon is such a phenomenal program,” UCSD Coach Bill Morgan said. “But we’re closing the gap. I think the men are in striking distance.”
Last season was the Tritons’ best ever. The men finished third for the third straight year and the women finished second at the Division III national championships. This year the men and women are ranked No. 2.
Kenyon is ranked No. 1. The Lords have won seven straight national men’s swimming titles.
The UCSD men’s team already has had 12 swimmers qualify for the national championships, compared to three at this time last year. Seven women have qualified.
Morgan said that as many as 24 men to qualify at the Pacific College Swim Conference meet Feb. 26-28 at the Santa Monica High School pool. For most schools it is the last chance to qualify swimmers for their respective national meets.
If as many swimmers qualify as Morgan thinks, he may, for the first time, have to pick the team that goes to the national championships March 19-21 at Canton, Ohio. A team can bring only 18 swimmers to the Division III national championships.
Morgan sees the gap shortening with Kenyon College in the future. He has only two seniors on the 40-member men’s team. Of the 12 qualifiers, nine are underclassmen.
One of the seniors who will be graduating soon after the nationals is Bill Kazmierowicz, the top swimmer in Triton history.
Kazmierowicz has six Division III national titles, three national records, eight school records and is a three-time All-American swimmer and two-time All-American in water polo. In Division III, a student is allowed 15 full-time quarters of athletics, so Kazmierowicz has been competing for nearly six years, although he can play only a maximum of four years in any one sport.
Last year, Kazmierowicz won the 200 individual medley, the 1,650 freestyle and was a member of the 400-medley relay team. He had raced in the 1,650 only once all last season.
Kazmierowicz did not come to UCSD to swim.
“I had no plans to swim,” Kazmierowicz said. “I didn’t swim a lot in high school (Mission Viejo). I mainly played water polo. But then we got the new pool (Canyon View Pool) and I thought I’d give it a try.
“All we had before was the ‘bathtub.’ The (new) pool helped a lot. You can’t train 60 people in a six-lane pool.”
Or win national championships.
The two local NAIA colleges wrap up their regular-season play this week. Christian Heritage (8-20) travels to Eagle Rock to play Occidental Saturday.
Point Loma Nazarene (7-2, 20-8) finishes its regular season at Azusa Pacific Thursday. A victory would give the Crusaders the Golden State Athletic Conference title. But that won’t be the end of the season for the Crusaders, who will compete in the NAIA District III playoffs. Point Loma will most likely play host to a first-round game next Tuesday.
United States International University’s hockey team finishes its home season Saturday and Sunday against Boston University. The Gulls were in the running for their first NCAA playoff bid before injuries virtually knocked USIU out of contention.
USIU’s top four scorers have suffered various injuries. The worst was a broken ankle that ended the season for junior center Jeff Dobek, the team’s leading scorer. USIU (17-13-1) ends its season at Air Force Feb. 27-28.
Boston University brings a five-game winning streak into USIU Arena. The Terriers (15-12-2) also won the Bean Pot Tournament and feature John Cullen.
The first professional women’s volleyball league starts Friday and several former San Diego State Aztecs were selected in the draft for the six-team league.
Former Aztec setter Laurel Brassey-Kessell was selected in the first round by Dallas. Brassey-Kessell also played on the Aztec men’s team during 1973, when women’s sports were not under the direction of the NCAA.
Sue Hegerle, who attended Escondido High School, was a fifth-round pick of Chicago; Minnesota selected Renee Pankopf in the sixth; setter Liane Sato went in the seventh round to San Francisco/San Jose and Kim Harsch went to Dallas in the same round. Also fielding teams are Los Angeles and New York.