Not only can these Slugs swim, they’re fast within the confines of an aquatic arena. Intense training combined by promising freshman talent has the UC Santa Cruz men’s swim team co-captains — senior Parker Richardson and junior James Lamb — optimistic as their team approaches unfamiliar territory in a new conference.

UCSC men’s and women’s swim and dive head coach of 16 years Kim Musch said the teams still need to prepare extensively before they take on the conference.

“They’re still getting in shape, and they still have a long way to go,” Musch said.

Touching on outstanding meets and notable individual swimmer performance so far, Musch agrees with the team co-captains that the freshman class’s ability has been a pleasant surprise.

“We have a really promising freshman class this year, it’s pretty incredible,” Richardson said. “The top times [are] pretty much freshman, freshman, freshman down the board. They’re all really talented, so I think that will help us be competitive this year.”

Ivan Garin, the standout freshman noted by Musch, has wasted no time in racking up victories in individual swimming events and relays. Against Colorado College, Garin recorded team bests with a 52.06 fly split on the medley relay, 21.86 50m free, 53.84 100m fly and 21.84 50m free relay split on Friday.

Garin gained recognition around the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) as an exceptional individual and team swimmer, winning the SCAC Swimmer-of-the-Week award for week two of the season.

For the women’s side, “the energy this year is more hopeful,” said UCSC sophomore swim-team member Josanne Van Der Wilk.

“It’s a good, solid team this year,” Van Der Wilk said. “I think we have a chance to win conference, which is kind of a big deal coming out of the conference that we were in [during previous years].”

Both UCSC men’s and women’s swim teams are entering their first year in the SCAC after their former membership in the Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference (PCSC). The PCSC is comprised of schools from both the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and Divisions I, II and II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The PCSC usually includes much faster swimmers compared to SCAC opponents, Van Der Wilk said.

Although the season is a month underway for the men’s and women’s swim teams, with past opponents including Stanford, College of Idaho, Mills College, Colorado College and San Jose State, Musch said his teams are still forming an identity.

“We’re still trying to get an idea for what this group looks like,” Musch said. “But right now they’re training really hard. I’m super happy with how they’re training, and as they get in shape we will have more of an idea of what we’ve got.”

Musch, Van Der Wilk and co-captians Parker Richardson and James Lamb described a team of swimmers who are steadfast with their training regimen. To become stronger and faster in the water, the men and women swimmers utilize the Office of Physical Education, Recreation and Sports (OPERS) Wellness Center three days per week in the morning, combining “Crossfit” and “P-90x,” among other exercises. This is coupled with “voodoo banding” and “body smashing,” both forms of active stretching, Musch said.

With each swimmer averaging about nine water workouts per week — a single swim session ranging from 4,000 to 8,000 yards of total distance — the UCSC men’s and women’s swim teams persistently kick their legs and twist their torsos day in and day out, hungry for a SCAC championship.