Four Swimmers out to Qualify for Olympic Trials at United States Open

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Dec. 2, 2003

Oregon State will send four swimmers to Federal Way, Wash., this weekend to compete in the United States Open. It will be the first time in recent years that the Beavers (2-2 overall, 0-1 Pacific-10) have sent qualifying swimmers to the highly competitive meet. Competing this weekend will be senior All-American Birte Steven, whose times in the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes currently lead the NCAA; junior Mari Embertson; and sophomores Christina Kinney and Monika Miroslaw.

The U.S. Open is a 'long-course' meet swum in a 50-meter pool, as opposed to the usual 25-yard pool encountered in the bulk of the collegiate meets. In the United States, swimmers must qualify for the Olympic Trials in a long-course meet.

'Christina and Mari are trying to qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials,' Liebowitz said. 'Birte (a German) and Monika (a Pole) are trying to qualify for their Olympic teams - Monika will probably be able to qualify if she reaches an A standard, while Birte will have a tougher time as there are a couple German swimmers who swim the breaststroke just a little faster.'

Meets like the U.S. Open require qualifying times met in any meet of the season. The Beavers earned their spots in the Speedo Cup that was held Nov. 20-22. The updated College Quick 50 list of national-best times was released the week after the Speedo Cup, and times earned at that meet by the Beavers placed them in several attractive nation-leading spots.

Steven tops the list with her NCAA-best times in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, and also comes in 18th in the 200 individual medley. Embertson is 10th in the 400 IM and 40th in the 200 IM. Junior Kristin Huston is 22nd in the 50 freestyle and 45th in the 100 freestyle. Sophomore Ausra Pacebutaite is 17th in the 100 backstroke and 35th in the 200 backstroke.

Also gaining spots were Christina Kinney and Miroslaw in the 200 butterfly, with Kinney 27th and Miroslaw 31st. The Beaver relay teams currently hold places in the 200 (24th), 400 (44th) and 800 (25th) freestyle relays, and the 200 (13th) and 400 (14th) medley relays.

'You can look at the Speedo Cup - we won the team title and had a lot of great swims,' Liebowitz said. 'But more important and more fun was how much they cared about each other and their performances.'

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