Although the Matadors lost both the men’s and women’s competitions against the visiting Washington Huskies on Saturday, the swim meet still provided a wealth of learning and personal victories.
The women’s 400-meter medley relay set the tone for the meet, with the Huskies taking a first-place finish at 3:53.67 and a second- place finish at 3:59.07. Matadors Deborah Hefter, Simone Luker, Olesya Senicheva, and Sanda Jukic came in at 4:09.72 for a third-place finish.
Head coach Barry Schreifels said although the Huskies were able to finish stronger in the heats than his team, he also said swimming with a great team like Washington always pushes the Matadors further.
Not discouraged by the Huskies’ wins, the Matadors’ competitive spirit could be seen in Jeff Hart’s second place finish in the 50-meter freestyle at 21.86 and his third-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle at 48.46.
The atmosphere was transformed during a fifteen-minute break in the action when Schreifels took to the microphone to begin the annual tribute to graduating seniors. Schreifels said this year’s seniors have given much to the program.
“They have lead, inspired, and accomplished,” Schreifels said.
This year’s seniors are Emre Celik, Sanda Jukic, Jeff Hart, Elise Schuetz, Matt Olaya, and Gerald Ferencz. Each was also given a lighthearted and comedic tribute by their fellow swimmers. Schreifels said the speeches given reflected the team’s close-knit nature.
Celik said the tribute made him feel sad since it was the last meet held at CSUN, but also made him feel proud of his fellow teammates.
“It made me think I did great things here at CSUN,” Celik said.
After the tribute, Celik provided the only first-place finish for the Matadors, winning the 200-meter backstroke with a time of 1:55.31, almost three seconds faster than Husky Scott Spansail, who came in second at 1:58.24.
Celik not only won a first-place finish in the 200 backstroke, but he also posted his season-best time.
Celik said getting a first-place finish against strong Husky swimmers let him know he is improving and will help him get ready for in-conference meets.
Several other Matadors also had personal best times during the meet. Jeff DeMoss finished the 200-meter freestyle at a career-best 1:53.61. Jeff Raimondi swam the 1,650-meter freestyle for the first time and finished at 17:40.18.
Shannon Colavito set a new season-best in the 1,650 freestyle at 18:02.54, but she still thinks there is room for improvement. Colavito said she was having some trouble in the 1,650 freestyle and will be working on it for the next meet.
“I need to concentrate on my turns, tempo, and strength,” Colavito said.
Luker, who placed third in the 200-meter breastsroke and was returning from a sprained ankle, also saw the need for improvement. Luker said she would be focusing on improving her strength because of her ankle injury.
Despite the losses on both the men and women teams, the Matadors were not disappointed by their performances. In fact, many felt competing against the Pac-10 Washington Huskies was a great opportunity.
This was also the first time the Matadors hosted the Washington Huskies, who are ranked within the top 20 college swim teams in the nation.
Schreifels said anytime his team gets to compete against a Pac-10 team is a great opportunity and it gives the swimmers a sense of pride.
Celik said after competing against some of Washington’s great swimmers, he knows he is on the right track to competing in the Big West Conference.
“Their depth and quality is a lot better,” said Celik in observing the Washington team.
Luker said swimming against the Huskies will improve the Matadors and make them swim harder and faster in the next meet.
“It’s a good thing for us. We don’t often get to swim against a really good team,” Luker said.
The Matadors next meet is Friday at UC Irvine.