By John Lohn
FAIRFAX, Virginia, March 21. THE Kate Ziegler Express continues to storm toward the United States World Championship Trials, slated for Indianapolis in early April. Over the weekend, while competing at the Southern Zone Sectionals of the Speedo Championship Series, Ziegler took down a pair of National Age Group records in the 15-and-16 division.
En route to blasting the field in the 1,650-yard freestyle, Ziegler clocked 15:40.89 at George Mason University. The time wasn’t far off Janet Evans’ American record of 15:39.14, registered in 1990, and broke Tiffany Cohen’s age group standard of 15:46.54, set in 1983.
During the same race, Ziegler broke the NAG record in the 1,000 freestyle. At the 1,000 point in the race, Ziegler turned in 9:25.41, well ahead of Jane Skillman’s 1990 record of 9:30.35.
Ziegler also made a run at the NAG record in the 500 freestyle, but fell just short of the 1979 standard of Tracy Caulkins, held at 4:36.25. Ziegler’s time in the 500 free was 4:36.51. In the open 1,000 free, she went 9:29.79 and she also placed first in the 200 free in 1:46.54. To put Ziegler’s accomplishments into perspective, she would have won the 500 and 1,650 freestyles at last weekend’s NCAA Championships.
Representing The Fish, the Virginia standout has had an extraordinary stretch of racing. After breaking Sippy Woodhead’s American record in the 800-meter freestyle (short course) in February (8:16.32), Ziegler broke the independent high school record in the 500-yard freestyle late last month (4:37.67).
Ziegler has been tabbed as America’s greatest distance hope since Janet Evans and should make her presence known in a major way at next month’s World Championship Trials. This summer, Ziegler could be a contender for gold at Worlds in Montreal.