Swimming Field Finalized For Championships

March 7, 2003

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State's Birte Steven and Naya Higashijima will each compete in three events at the 2003 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving and Championships. The field for the meet, to be held March 20-22 in Auburn, Alab., was finalized late Thursday.

The two met qualifying standards with their performances at the Husky Invitational in early December. Steven qualified in the 100-yard breaststroke, 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley. She improved her times in the 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships last week.

Higashijima will compete in the 200 butterfly, 400 individual medley and 500 freestyle. Higashijima also qualified in the 1,650 freestyle but will not compete in the event, which is the same day as the 200 butterfly. The senior lowered her season-best times in the 200 butterfly, 400 individual medley and 1,650 freestyle at the Pacific-10 Championships.

Senior Paula Finlay just missed qualifying for the 200 breaststroke with a provisional time of 2 minutes, 15.85 seconds she posted last Sunday in a time trial. Finlay's time was .20 seconds behind the final swimmer to qualify for the event with a provisional time.

'The girls did everything we could ask of them,' Oregon State head coach Mariusz Podkoscielny said. 'They swam lifetime and season bests, went faster at Pac-10s and then went faster in the last chance meet. The field at NCAAs just got faster.'

This will be Steven's third trip to the NCAAs and Higashijima's second. Steven placed 11th in the 200 breaststroke and 16th in the 100 breaststroke last year. The junior finished 16th in the 200 breaststroke in 2001, and is Oregon State's first-ever three-time All-American in women's swimming.

Higashijima competed in the 500 freestyle, 400 individual medley and 200 butterfly at last year's meet. She finished 10th in the 200 butterfly to gain her first All-American honor.

Birte Steven's season-best times of the three events she will compete in at the 2003 NCAA Championships:

Event		Season Best	Date of Best Time100 breast	1:01.68		Dec. 7200 breast	2:11.45		March 1200 IM		2:03.53		Feb. 27

Naya Higashijima's season-best times of the three events she will compete in at the 2003 NCAA Championships:

Event		Season Best	Date of Best Time200 fly		1:58.07		March 1400 IM		4:19.94		Feb. 28500 free	4:50.76		Dec. 6
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