Three NCAA/American records were set at the Pacific-10 women's conference championships to highlight a very exciting conference season, with one more weekend to go. The Speedo/CSCAA Top 25 list has changed radically in the past couple of weeks.
In fact, two of the records were set in successive events. On Day 2 of the Pac-10 competition, Stanford's Tara Kirk split 28.08 en route to a 58.68 clocking in the 100 breast. This bettered the former American/NCAA mark of 59.05 set by Georgia's Kristy Kowal in 1998. In the very next event, the 100 back, Cal's Natalie Coughlin posted a 50.71 (split: 24.87) to better her own record of 50.90 from last December. Natalie also set a new NCAA record in the 200 back the next day, bettering her 1:51.02 record with a 1:50.90 (splits: 26,34, 54.51, 1:23.02). As if that weren't enough, Natalie recorded the nation's top time in the 200 free (1:43.30), just 2-hundredths off Nicole Haislett's 1992 mark.
Those weren't the only nation-leading times to come out of the Pac-10 Championships. In the 200 breast, Arizona State's Agnes Kovacs beat out Kirk by a mere 4-hundredths (2:07.75-2:07.79)_the second- and third-fastest times in history. Arizona's Emily Mason has the top time in the 500 free (4:38.79). Stanford's Shelly Ripple has a faster time in the 200 fly than does Coughlin, courtesy of Ripple's 1:53.50 effort at Pac-10s; she also won the 100 fly with the second-fastest time so far this year (52.16).
Florida's women and Auburn's men grabbed the team titles at the Southeast Conference Championships, held Feb. 18-23 at Fayetteville, Ark. Nine SEC records were bettered during the competition. Top 25 leading times were established by the Auburn women's medley relays (200, 1:38.87; 400 medley, 3:36.02), Georgia women's freestyle relays (200, 1:29.86; 400, 3:15.20; 800, 7:06.90), Auburn's Kevin Clements in the 400 IM (3:44.26), Florida's men's free relays (200, 1:17.94; 400, 2:52.74), Auburn's men's 400 medley relay (3:09.99) and South Carolina's Zsolt Gaspar (100 free, 42.89; 100 fly, 46.60). It was learned just as this listing went to press that Gaspar was declared ineligible, and 180 points were deducted from his team's point standings at the Southeast Conference Championships. Gaspar's times will remain in the list.
Among many fine swims at the women's Western Athletic Conference Championships this past weekend, SMU's Alenka Kejzar swam the fastest time in the nation in the 400 IM (4:07.30), and teammate Flavia Rigamonti has the only sub-16 minute swim in the 1650 free, 15:45.93_third-fastest all-time.
Several nation-leading times came out of the Big 10 Men's Championships: Michigan's Dan Ketchum in the 200 free (1:34.19) and the 500 free (4:16.30), Northwestern's Anthony Swanson in the 200 IM (1:45.64), Minnesota's 200 medley relay (1:26.23) and Michigan's 800 free relay (6:22.82). At the ACC Championships, held the same weekend, Virginia's Gary Marshall went 1:54.79 in the 200 breast to lead in that event. Teammates Ian Prichard posted the second-leading time in the 500 free (4:16.41) and Bo Greenwood has the third-fastest time in the 400 IM (3:44.99).
The final edition of the College Best Times will be published Tuesday, March 19. This will cover the last weekend of the college conference championships, which should be very competitive: the men's Pac-10 Championships and Mid-American Championships, among others. All times_including last-chance meets and any times not on this list_need to be submitted no later than Monday, March 18, at noon Mountain time. They can be e-mailed to JudyJ@swiminfo.com, or faxed to 928-284-2477.