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Michelle DeFreese: African-American Making Waves -- March 13, 2002

By Josh Jeffrey

March 13. RUTGERS University junior Michelle DeFreese is one of the nation's top-ranked African-American women swimmers, and a swimmer who could be making big waves in the near future.

Currently ranked number 6 in the NCAA in the women's 100 fly (just ahead of another Africa-American, Tanica Jamison of Texas), Michelle has improved markedly over the past few years. As a freshman at Division 3 Montclair State University, she placed second at the Metropolitan Conference Championships with a time of 1:00.42, making 2nd team All-Conference.

Last year she walked on at Rutgers as a sophomore and finished 10th at the Big East Conference meet in the 100 fly with a time of 57.03. But this year -- as a junior -- she's really come into her own. At the 2002 Big East Swimming and Diving Championships, DeFreese owned the event start to finish, turning at the 50 in 24.83 and scorching to an NCAA A time of 53.86. Her prelim time of 53.50 set a new Big East record.

If she maintains this rate of improvement, Natalie Coughlin may want to second guess swimming the 100 fly next year.