Winning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation was a long shot for the UC Davis swimming and diving team this year. With the addition of Hawai’i and Brigham Young University, the Aggies were simply competing with sports programs that were out of their league.
Yet, to stun the aquatics world, UC Davis pieced together an unlikely conference victory. Though the Aggies got point contributions from across the board, junior Samantha Shellem’s impact on the team could be the largest.
The junior transfer from swimming powerhouse California came from competing against the schools that churn out Olympic swimmers to the Aggies and simply shined with the new team.
The La Verne, Calif. native put up strong performances in every freestyle race. She won the 800-yard freestyle relay with her Aggie teammates, placed third in the 200-yard freestyle relay with the UC Davis team, took the 500-free race and put up a second place finish in the 200-free behind teammate Katie Edwards. A second place showing in the 1650-free and the 400-free relay rounded off Shellem’s contributions to the team.
All of her freestyle races culminated to a total of 160 points contributed by the freestyle-specialist. Yet, to confine Shellem’s influence on the team to one weekend would be unfair.
The junior came and performed well for the Aggies throughout the season, grabbing three MPSF Athlete of the Week awards, one each on Nov. 7, Dec. 5 and Jan. 30.
Shellem’s impact on the team began immediately when she jumped in the pool for UC Davis, and her influence will continue to persist as she leads the Aggies through the upcoming year.
— Matthew Yuen