BEIJING, Aug. 21. FORTY-SEVEN athletes were chosen to represent the United States in swimming at the World University Games in Beijing, China. In the past, this meet has proved to be a good springboard for future Olympians, as 78 American swimmers who medaled at WUGs went on to the Olympics; 56 of those were Olympic medal winners as well. Names like Biondi, Sterkel, Malchow and Meagher have represented the USA at the World University Games.
Four members of the 2001 team are not strangers to the meet. Kim Black, also a 2000 U.S. Olympian, comes into this year's contest with four gold medals, ranking her second in U.S. female swimmers in both gold medals and total medals won at WUGs (Jill Sterkel has five total medals, all gold).
Mark Warkentin, Black's 1999 teammate, also has four total medals, all golds. He is ranked sixth among U.S. males to compete at WUGs. Warkentin has the opportunity to tie Josh Davis for the most medals by an American swimmer at WUGs.
Jeff Somensatto and Corrie Murphy also medaled at the 1999 games, and are returning again this year.
With many new faces among the women’s squad, anyone could step up to surprise, and with so many on their first national team trip, all are eager to represent their country with excellence.
"It seemed [at camp] that everyone going on the trip was enthusiastic and interested in being part of the team," said breaststroker Tara Kirk. "This year, at school, I experienced my first real team atmosphere and know how much it can benefit individual and team performance. The enthusiasm created by so many college-aged swimmers coming together to represent their country will, I think, push the team to more than a few amazing and outstanding feats."
The women's team will be led by WUG veterans Kim Black and Corrie Murphy. Black will swim the 200m free and the 800m free relay, the event that won her a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics. Murphy is competing at her second Universiade and will represent the U.S. in the 400m IM, where she won a bronze in 1999.
"What I would like to accomplish my second time around is to be there for my teammates," said Murphy. "I would like to enjoy the fact that we are all there for each other and our country."
Look for Tara Kirk, ranked 10th in the world in the 50m breast in 2000, to be one of the top contenders in the breaststrokes. The Stanford freshman won the 100y free at NCAAs, and placed fourth in both the 100m and 200m breaststrokes at the Phillips 66 Spring Nationals. Joining her will be Kristen Woodring, the Big Ten freshman of the year, and SMU's Katie McClelland.
The Americans will also be strong in the distance free events. Jessica Foschi and Rachel Komisarz will swim all three of the distance events (400m, 800m and 1500m free). Foschi is coming off her first NCAA title, when she swam away with the 500y free, and Komisarz will represent the Americans in six events at the Games.
Maureen Farrell is the top American backstroker, taking fifth in the 100m and fourth in the 200m back at Spring Nationals.