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Schirk Sets 200 Backstroke Record on Day 3 of YMCA Nationals -- April 8, 2005

By John Lohn

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., April 8. THE past month has been pretty good to Patrick Schirk, on a path to become one of the top backstrokers in the United States.

Less than four weeks after winning the Pennsylvania high school championship in the 100 back with a state-record time (48.96), Schirk extinguished a YMCA national record in the 200 back. Representing the Pottstown Y, Schirk clocked 1:44.25 Thursday night, the third day of the YMCA Nationals, to erase the 2000 standard of Jayme Cramer (1:44.38).

Schirk won the event by nearly seven seconds as Clint McClendon touched in second place in 1:51.01. The victory in the 200 back complemented Schirk’s earlier triumph in the 100 back. Last summer, the Penn State recruit advanced to the semifinals of both dorsal events at the Olympic Trials.

A double-winner on the opening night of competition, Ashley Jones collected two more championships, as the Joliet swimmer bested the opposition in the 400 individual medley and 200 backstroke. In adding the 400 I.M. to her win in the 200 distance, Jones was timed in 4:16.68, ahead of the 4:18.07 recorded by Emily Brunemann (M.E. Lyons). Jones then added a win in the 200 backstroke, going 1:58.35 to edge defending champion Tricia Weaner, who went 1:59.10 for West Shore.

The 100 freestyle on the male side produced a great finish with Birmingham’s Dan Priestley prevailing in 45.42, slightly quicker than the 45.44 of Countryside’s Chris French. The Wilton duo of Andrew Trepp (45.48) and Jeff Sudbury (45.53) finished third and fourth and helped their team pad a sizable lead in the boys’ standings. Wilton leads the guys’ competition with 285 points, followed by M.E. Lyons (195.5) and Lakeland Hills (184).

Triangle’s Charlie Houchin took first in the boys’ 400 individual medley (3:57.15), holding off Harrison County’s Michael Walker (3:58.94). Meanwhile, the girls’ 100 freestyle went to Kennett’s Kayla Andrews (51.33), who finished ahead of Bloomsburg’s Caroline Byron (51.40) and South Family’s Carly Mathes (51.47).

In the 800 freestyle relays, the Sarasota girls and M.E. Lyons boys posted convincing victories. The Sarasota quartet of Corinne Showalter (1:49.52), Nicole Samilo, Kata Fodor and Ashley Largo was timed in 7:28.16 while the M.E. Lyons squad of Kyle Greene, Sean Davis, Charlie Sparks and Hank Browning touched in 6:46.50.

While Wilton leads the boys’ team standings, Sarasota holds a comfortable lead in the girls’ race, thanks to 233.5 points. M.E. Lyons sits in second (186) and West Shore is third (185). In the combined standings, M.E. Lyons (381.5) has a slim lead on Wilton (374) and Sarasota (364.5).