Higashijima Breaks Own School Record At Opening Day of NCAA Championships

March 21, 2002

AUSTIN, Texas - Naya Higashijima broke her Oregon State school record on her way to a 41st place finish in the 500-yard freestyle in the opening day of the NCAA Swimming Championships at the University of Texas Thursday.

Higashijima's time of 4:51.74 bettered her previous record time of 4:54.05, which she set at the Speedo Cup earlier this season. The Oregon State junior had the 58th fastest seed time heading into the event.

'She was in a perfect situation as far as racing,' OSU head coach Mariusz Podkoscielny said. 'I was very proud of her effort. Usually she has a hard time with her first event, but she did great and her time is a lifetime best. We are really excited for the next two days.'

Birte Steven was seeded 64th entering the meet in the 200 individual medley and finished with a time of 2:04.37 to place 53rd for the Beavers.'Birte had a hard time getting going in the butterfly, but after the first 50 yards she was the fastest in her heat,' Podkoscielny said. 'She had a fast breaststroke which will help Friday and Saturday.'

On Friday Higashijima will compete in the 400 individual medley and Steven in the 100 breaststroke. Higashijima is seeded 30th and Steven 18th in their respective events Friday.

'This meet is everything that it has been advertised to be,' Podkoscielny said. 'In a preliminary race today seven out of the eight competitors were Olympians. It tells you what kind of level of competition we are facing. We are happy to be here and hopefully will swim Friday and Saturday nights.'

THURSDAY OREGON STATE FINAL RESULTS500 FREESTYLE - 41. Naya Higashijima, 4:51.74. 200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY - 53. Birte Steven, 2:04.37.

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