LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific put together its best conference showing in the program’s brief history, finishing fifth at the 4-day Pacific Collegiate Swim & Dive Conference Championship Meet Saturday afternoon at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach, Calif.
The Cougars scored 572 points over the course of 20 events. UC San Diego defended its conference title with 1,635 points, followed by California Baptist University with 1,261. UC Santa Cruz was third with 970 points, while Alaska-Fairbanks topped the Cougars with 615.
Among Golden State Athletic Conference member schools, Azusa Pacific finished second to Cal Baptist, but well ahead of Fresno Pacific University, Concordia University, Biola University and Vanguard University in the first-ever officially scored GSAC meet.
“Our team spirit was way up in this meet,” said Azusa Pacific Head Coach Robert Fleming. “I don’t know if that is why we swam so well this weekend, but we really supported everyone in their races, and as a coach, I’m really pleased with that.”
All-American senior Kaylen Hewko tallied the most points for Azusa Pacific, finishing second in the 500-yard freestyle (5:04.93), fourth in the 200-yard butterfly (2:07.67), and fifth in the 100-yard butterfly (58.01) while swimming legs on 3 Cougar relays that finished sixth or better.
She clocked season-best times in all 3 individual events, and anchored the Cougars to season-best efforts in the 200-yard freestyle (1:39.40) and the 800-yard freestyle (7:57.95) relays.
“Kaylen’s time in the 500 free was a pleasant surprise,” said Fleming. “She swam the 800 relay the night before and was rather pedestrian in her time, but she came out and swam a 5:04 in the 500 and that was great.”
Like Hewko, sophomore Victoria Gibb scored in 6 different events, 3 individuals and 3 relays. She was strong in the sprints, posting season-best times in the 50-yard freestyle (24.92) and the 100-yard freestyle (54.03), finishing ninth in both finals.
Senior Karla Hill was the only other Cougar with a top-ten finish in an individual event, clocking an 18:45.08 in the 1650-yard freestyle. Earlier in the meet she posted a season-best time of 5:23.79 to finish 21st in the 500 free.
Freshman Quinn Robertson, who has been swimming the 200 free for only the past 2 months, clocked a 2:01.75, and should prove to be a valuable performer in the Cougars’ 800 free relays at the NAIA Championship Meet.
Junior Stacy Wong was the only new Cougar to add her name to the list of NAIA qualifiers. She registered a personal-record 2:16.98 in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing 19th out of 36 competitors but easily besting the NAIA standard by more than 2 seconds.
Stacy is one of those athletes who you root for,” said Fleming. “She is always there and does what’s asked of her. She has been with us since day one, and her teammates really wanted her to go to NAIAs this year.”
Azusa Pacific takes next week off in preparation for the NAIA championship meet, March 3-5, in St. Peter's, Mo. A year ago, the Cougars finished seventh in just the second year of the program.
“We look strong heading into nationals,” said Fleming. “I think we hold our own destiny to finish sixth at nationals this year, but we’ll need some help to finish in the top 5.”
Click here to view complete results of the 2011 PCSC Championship Meet.