Tara Kirk, Natalie Coughlin Set American, NCAA Marks

BELMONT SHORES, CA., March 1. A pair of American/NCAA records fell on Day 2 of the women's Pac-10 swimming championships here this evening.

And people criticize Belmont for being slow?

First, Stanford's Tara Kirk, a sophomore who's defending NCAA (and Pac-10) champ, split 28.08 en route to a 58.68 100 breast clocking, breaking the old
American/NCAA record of 59.05 by Georgia's Kristy Kowal from the 1998 NCAAs in Minneapolis.

When Kowal set her record she was out in 27.90.

Kirk's previous pr had been a 59.18 (sp;lit: 27.90) from last season's National Collegiate Championship meet in East Meadow, New York, which at the time was second on the all-time performers-performances list (now third).

Moments later Cal sophomore Natalie Coughlin broke her own American/NCAA record in the 100 back, going 50.71 (split: 24.87). Coughlin's old record was 50.90 from last December's Longhorn Invitational in Austin, where she was out in 24.92

So in the space of just under a year Coughlin has dropped the record from 52.47 to 50.71, and she still has NCAAs in three weeks! Can a sub-50 second swim be far behind?

Actually, Coughlin dropped the U.S. Open record from 52.36 to its present state. Here's how: at the '99 NCAAs in Georgia, where the 'Dawgs won their initial team championship, Stanford's Catherine Fox went a 52.47 in the 100 back prelims to break Coughlin's American record of 52.55. Coughlin had swum that time at the Southern California Swimming Winter Invitational in Las Vegas the previous December.

The old NCAA recrd was Fox's 52.71 that won the '98 NCAAs in Minneapolis.

At that same meet ('99 NCAAs) Cal's Marylyn Chiang won the 100 back at night with her 52.36, which was a U.S. Open/NCAA record since she's a Canadian citizen.

So the record stood at 52.36 for two years because in '00 Coughlin was still in high school, Chiang and Fox had both grduated, and NCAAs that year were short-course meters.

At last season's Pac-10s in Federal Way, Coughlin, then a froshwoman, got her American record back with a 52.40 leadoff leg on Cal's 400 meddley relay
foursome.

Then at East Meadow three weeks later (NCAAs( she got BOTH the American and NCAA record by again leading off Cal's 400 medley relay in 51.66. That was done in the morning heats. The following day she won the 100 back in 51.23, breaking both the American and NCAA marks she had established a day earlier.

As noted above, she did it again in December at Austin and again here this evening.

Not too shabby but wait, there's more.

Earlier this evening she won the 200 free in a Pac-10 record 1:43.30, fastest nationally. That time is also just .02 off former Florida All-America Nicole Haislett's American record 1:43.28 that won NCAAs in
Austin a decade ago.

The U.S. Open/NCAA record is 1:43.08 by former SMU star Martina Moravcova that won her the NCAA title five years ago.

However, since Moravcova is a citizen of Slovakia, her record obviously is not an American one. That still belongs to Haislett, but probably for not much longer.

Haislett went on to win the Olympic gold at Barcelona that August.

For comparison purposes, Coughlin's splits were: 23.95, 50.02, 1:16.18, 1:43.30.

Moravcova swam 23.97, 51.16, 1:16.20, 1:43.08. So Coughlin was ahead of record pace for the first 100, was .02 behind at 150 and got home a tad slower — but then Moravcova was swimming at NCAAs, NOT a conference meet.

At last summer's World Championships, Coughlin won the gold and twice broke the American record in the 100 back, once in the race itself, again in the medley relay. This latter time (1:00.18) is a mere .02 shy of the world record held by a Chinese woman (He Cihong) from the 1994 World Championships in Rome.

Many people in swimming believe that record is tainted because of repeated instances of Chinese swimers testing positive for illegal drugs.

– Bill Bell

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Author: Archive Team

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