PRINCETON, N.J., December 10. CAL women's swim coach Teri McKeever's Golden Bears made their first visit to the hallowed halls of Ivy a most successful one last weekend as they splashed to a resounding victory in the Tiger Invitational here at DeNuzio Pool.
And Princeton men's coach Rob Orr's Tigers proved themselves worthy of their name as they roared to victory on their side of the ledger, splashing past Rutgers and St. John's with ease.
The Bears won with a 1202-841 margin over Coach Susan Teeter's Lady Tigers, with Rutgers a solid third (554), largely on the strength of some excellent swimming by sophomore backstroke specialist Kelly Harrigan, the Scarlet Knights' double-defending Big East champ.
Orr's Tigers scored a whopping 1248 points to triumph over Rutgers (690)
with St. John's (390) taking the show spot.
Princeton's men were led by senior Juan Valdiviseo, a Peruvian Olympian
who's been a World Championship 200 fly semi-finalist and a U.S. Nationals
finalist (Clovis, 2001). The talented Tiger won the 500 free opening night, then won both fly titles to complete his hat trick and also swam on several winning relays.
He was joined on the victory podium by teammate Justin Ashley, a freshman
who turned in a solid 15:30+ to win the 1650 free; rookie Mike Zee, who won the 100 back (pr 49.81) and senior Steve Fleming, who won the 200 back
(1:47.8). Princeton swept the relays too.
St. John's received a fine performance from sprinter Pavel Sokowlowski, who won the 100 (44.50) and 200 (1:39.28) freestyles. American University's Dominick Szabo, a former Pennsylvania state prep champ in the 100 breast and a U.S. Nationals finalist this past summer at College Park, took home golds in the 200 IM(1:51.30) and the 200 breast.
Rutgers' sprint star Matt Campbell, who set a Big East record in the 50 last spring at the championships in East Meadow with his 19.72, won his specialty in 20.26 and led off the sprint relay in 20.13. He also was runner-up in the 100 free (44.79).
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On the women's side, Cal's Bears proved very rude visitors indeed, as they won all but one individual event (100 breast), swept several races and took four of five relays.
Among the outstanding Berkeley swimmers was frestyler Ashley Chandler, who
matched Valdiviseo's hat-trick with one of her own with prs in the 200 free (1:47.34), the 500 (4:47.34) and the 1650 (16:13.64, second-best nationally and an NCAA auto cut, as was her double-century). Teammate Lauren Medina (pr 1:47.54) was runner-up int he 200 free while Harrigan (1:49.07) was third.
Other Cal wineners included Erin Reilly in the 100 fly (55.07), Michelle
Miller in the 200 breast (2:18.11) with former Florida prep star Annie Babicz — now a Cal frosh — a tick behind at 2:18.12; and Flora Kong (200
Golden Bear Natalie Griffith more than lived up to her school's nickname as she splashed to a win in the 400 IM (NCAA auto cut 4:15.86), was runner-up in the 200 IM (2:02.0) and third in the 200 breast. She's a former age-group star from the Coast Guard Blue Dolphins' team in Virginia.
Villanova's Becky Koch, defending Big East 500-1650 champ, was second in the mile with a seasonal-best 16:21+.
Princeton's sole individual winner was breaststroker Stephanie Hsiao, who
raced to gold in the 100 (1:02.90). A product of Coach Dave Salo's Irvine
Nova team, she has a pair of Ivy team titles in her first two years in
Tigerland and was league champ in the breaststrokes last season.
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Had it been anyone other than Natalie Coughlin, their performance at
Princeton this weekend would have raised eyebrows and created headlines.
As it was, Coughlin did times that only one or two other swimmers in the
history of women's swimming have ever achieved yet didn't break any
recores or set any prs.
What she did do is bring out the best in Harrigan and teammate Helen Silver, each of whom rcorded a career-best in a race with Coughlin.
It was noted earlier on SwimInfo that Coughlin's 1:55.46 IM is third-best performance ever(second-performer) with only Auburn's Maggie Bowen's last two winning NCAA swims being faster. Or look at it this way: back 22 years ago at the spring 1981 U.S. Nationals at Harvard's Blodgett Pool, Tracy Caulkins — certainly among the greatest American swimmers of all-time and holder of more U.S. titles than any other swimmer male or female — set a then AR of 1:57.06.
It took 11 years for that standard to be broken by Stanford's Summer Sanders with her 1:57.02 from NCAAs at Texas, still the 17-18 NAG record. Coughlin, who rarely swims this race, goes 1:55.4 at Princeton in December with the second-place swimmer seven seconds in arrears.
In the 100 back NC won in 51.36, seventh-fastest performance all-time (she owns all of the faster times) with Harrigan next (pr 54.18) and Berkeley sophomore Silver third (54.79, just off her 54.25 pr from NCAAs last March). The time is also just off her non-NCAA/Pac-10 best, which is 50.90 from the Longhorn Invitational in Austin two seasons ago.
In the 200 back it was the same story. Coughlin wos in 1:51.42,
fifth-fastest all-time. Only her last three winning NCAA times and a Pac-10 title are faster. She towed Harrigan to a seasonal pr 1:56.8, just off
her career-best 1:56.0 from the Big East meet last February; and also helped take Silver to her pr, 1:57.37.
Silver, incidentally, has a younger sister who will be a freshman at Cal next fall and who is a pretty fair swimmer in her own right. She won the Washington state 50-100 free titles for Bainbridge High late last month for the fourth-consecutive year (22.99-49.8), a feat no other swimmer in the state's history had ever done. She intends to train for the Olympic Trials this winter and spring with Salo's Irvine team while finishing high school in Orange County, but will graduate from Bainbridge with the rest of her class.
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Although she swam for Cal's USA-S club team, Cal Aquatics, former UCLA
sprinter Keiko Price — now training in Berkeley for the Trials — had a
fine meet at Princeton too. She won the 50-100 frees in 22.82-49.24, the
latter a pr, surpassing her 49.34 from the '98 NCAA Championships.