INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Dec. 21. KRISTY Kowal, a former Georgia swimmer and silver medalist at the 2000 Olympic Games, has been named a recipient of the NCAA
Today¹s Top VIII Award as announced by the NCAA. The award honors eight distinguished student-athletes from the preceding calendar year for achievement in athletics, achievement in academics, character and
"We could not be more proud of Kristy," Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said, "as she has worked hard to become the consummate student-athlete during her stay at Georgia. She is a very talented young lady in the
classroom and in the pool, but her success has been predicated on old-fashion hard work."
Kowal marks the fourth consecutive year that a student-athlete from Georgia has been a winner of the Top VIII Award and the fifth recipient overall. Swimmer Lisa Coole won the award in 1997.
"I am proud of Kristy for bringing this much honor and glory to Georgia," Bauerle said. "It means a lot to all of us in the athletic program."
The group will be honored January 7, at the Honors Dinner during the NCAA Convention in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Top VIII Awards are selected by the NCAA Honors Committee, which is composed of eight athletics administrators at member institutions and nationally distinguished citizens who are former student-athletes. Potential candidates are nominated by NCAA member institutions and selected by the committee, which is chaired by Robert A. Steitz, associate commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
"We look forward to having a great celebration in Orlando. She joins a very prestigious group of former Georgia athletes who have also won this award."
Other 2001 recipients include Matt Busbee, swimming, Auburn University; Drew Brees, football, Purdue University; Alia Fischer, basketball, Washington University (Missouri); Andrea M. Garner, basketball,
Pennsylvania State University; Kevin M. Listerman, basketball; Northern Kentucky University; Amanda Scott, softball, California State University,
Fresno; and Josh Sims, lacrosse, Princeton University.
Kowal was also honored two months ago by the NCAA as being named Woman of the Year.
A seven-time NCAA individual champion, Kowal holds eight American, one world and three U.S. Open records, including the 200-meter breaststroke. She helped lead Georgia to back-to-back national crowns and four consecutive Southeastern Conference titles. At the 2000 NCAA Championships, Kowal dominated both breaststroke events and added a third title in the 200-meter individual medley. Kowal also contributed to the Lady Bulldog relays, winning a pair of additional titles as part of Georgia¹s 200-meter and 400-meter medley relays while setting a world record in the 400-meter event.
For her outstanding efforts at the NCAA Championships, Kowal was named CSCAA Female Swimmer of the Year as well as NCAA Performer of the Meet.
Tallying 22 All-America certificates during her four-year stint with the Lady Bulldogs, Kowal stands second only to teammate Courtney Shealy (26) for all-time distinctions in Georgia athletic program history. In winning her seventh NCAA individual crown, Kowal claimed the most national titles won by any student-athlete in UGA history, surpassing Georgia¹s trio of four-time titlists, Gwen Torrence (track & field), Debbie Ferguson (track & field) and Hope Spivey-Sheeley (gymnastics).
The Wyomissing, Pa., native holds six University records and received team most valuable player accolades all four years at Georgia. She was honored as
the 2000 SEC Female Athlete of the Year. She became the first swimmer in the SEC to earn four consecutive titles in the breaststroke events. Kowal was named the United States Olympic Committee female Athlete of the Month for the month of March.
Most recently Kowal made another splash at the international level. The 1998 World Champion in the 100-meter breaststroke, Kowal earned a spot on the
U.S. Team for the 2000 Olympic Games in fine fashion, finishing first and setting an American record in the 200-meter breaststroke. She did not disappoint in Sydney, winning silver in the 200-meter breaststroke.
Kowal¹s achievements stretch far beyond the pool. The early childhood education major posted a 3.58 grade-point average, earning her recognition as a Ramsey Scholar as one of the top ten scholar-athletes at Georgia. She is a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll and CSCA All-Academic team selection and named second-team GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American for District III in 2000. Kowal was a member of the Blue Key Leadership Society, Palladia Leadership Society and the Kappa Delta Epsilon Education Honor Society. For her volunteer efforts with the Safe Kids project, homeless shelter and soup kitchen, Kowal received the 2000 Peach of an Athlete Award from the AtlantaBoy Scouts for comunity service.
Kowal was chosen from more than 300 nominations. A selection committee composed of representatives from member schools chose the 51 state winners,including a winner from the District of Columbia, and then narrowed the field to 10 national finalists. The NCAA Committee on Women¹s Athletics selected Kowal from the 10 finalists. Previous winners include California¹s
Jamila Demby (1999), Peggy Boutilier from Virginia (1998) and the late Lisa Ann Coole from Georgia (1997).