Shelly Ripple, Tara Kirk Win 200 Fly And 200 Breast On Final Day Of NCAA's

March 23, 2002

Austin, Tex. - Shelly Ripple and Tara Kirk made history on the final day of competition at the 2002 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the Jamail Texas Swimming Center. Ripple won the 200 fly in an NCAA record time (1:53.23) for her first NCAA individual championship after finishing second five times in her career. Kirk set a new American record with her victory in the 200 breast (2:07.36) and now holds American records in both the 100 (58.68) and 200 breast. Auburn won the meet with 474 points, while Stanford finished third (301) and California eighth (245). Stanford won five of the meet's 21 events, more than any other school.

'It means so much to me, but maybe not quite as much as a team title,' said Ripple of her individual title. 'I swam with energy and was so excited. Richard (Quick) kept telling me that my day would come and tonight I felt that it did a little bit. It was a thrill.'

'I knew that the competition in the 200 breast was going to be so much closer (than the 100 breast),' said Kirk of her victory. 'Winning the 200 breast meant even more to me, and now that I have the American records in both the 100 and 200 breast it's like a matching set.'

'For Shelly (Ripple) to win her first NCAA individual title after being second and third so many times is incredible,' said Quick. 'It was her last chance, and it was a great victory. Nobody's ever given Stanford swimming more than Shelly Ripple.'

'Tara (Kirk) had to beat the Olympic champion (Agnes Kovacs of Arizona State) to win her event and swam a great 200 breast,' added Quick.

Ripple, who finished second in the 200 fly at the NCAA's last year to 2000 Olympic gold medallist and former teammate Misty Hyman, led wire-to-wire.

Kirk avenged two losses this season to Kovacs, who finished second with a time of 2:07.64 that also beat the previous American record.

California's Natalie Coughlin earned NCAA Swimmer of the Meet honors for the second straight year after breaking her third American record of the meet with a victory in the 200 back (1:49.52). Coughlin smashed a pair of American records in the 100 back (49.97) and 100 fly (50.01) on Friday.

'It's overwhelming, but it gets me pumped up for next year,' said Coughlin. 'I just look at what I can improve and do better for next year.'

Stanford's 400 free relay team of Ripple, Jessica Foschi, Sara Watchorn and Lacey Boutwell finished ninth with a season-best time of 3:19.37 in the final event of the three-day meet.Boutwell also placed eighth for Stanford in the 100 free (49.52, 49.22 prelims).

Foschi (11th, 16:21.84) and Evins Cameron (37th, 16:57.08) competed in the 1650 free.

Georgia's Maritza Correia led the other individual winners by setting a new American record in the 50 free (47.56). Correia also swam the anchor leg on Georgia's winning 400 free relay team that also included Stefanie Williams, Neka Mabry and Paige Kearns that closed out the meet with an American record time of 3:13.71.

Southern Methodist's Flavia Rigamonti (1650 free, 15:52.28) and USC's Blythe Hartley (platform diving, 460.35) rounded out Saturday's winners.

Stanford had seven other competitors in Saturday's prelim session.

Amy Wagner led the Cardinal in the 200 back with a career-best time of 1:58.89 to finish tied for 18th. Alexis Oakland also placed 25th in the prelims (1:59.53).

Sara Watchorn followed Boutwell's performance in the 100 free with a 38th-place showing, swimming a season-best time of 50.54. Tami Ransom (68th, 52.16) also competed for the Cardinal.In the 200 breast, Kirsten Gilbert finished 31st with a time of 2:17.90.

Alexis Sowa placed 19th in platform diving (355.25 prelims), while Ashlee Rosenthal finished 22nd (prelims).

Stanford's third place finish extended the team's string of seasons placing in the top three to 21 consecutive years.

'It means a lot that our program still had character and could still compete as a team when you came for (the NCAA title) is out of reach,' commented Quick. 'I was really proud of our team's character and spirit today.'

FINAL TEAM SCORES: 1. Auburn 474, 2. Georgia 386, 3. Stanford 301, 4. USC 300.5, 5. Arizona 291, 6. Texas 267.5, 7. Florida 249, 8. California 245, 9. Southern Methodist 178, 10T. Arizona State 136, 10T. Indiana 136, 12. Virginia 125, 13. North Carolina 110, 14. Wisconsin 84, 15T. Pacific 76, 15T. Miami 76, 17. UCLA 64, 18. Alabama 56, 19. Notre Dame 52, 20. Louisiana State 48, 21. Penn State 46, 22. Houston 37, 23. Tennessee 25, 24. Florida State 24, 25. Rice 23, 26. Texas A&M 21, 27. Michigan 20.5, 28. Cincinnati 17, 29T. Rutgers 15, 29T. George Mason 15, 31. Oregon State 14, 32. Minnesota 13, 33T. Purdue 11, 33T. Villanova 11, 35T. Iowa 9, 35T. South Carolina 9, 37. Florida Atlantic 7, 38. Western Kentucky 6.5, 39. Michigan State 6, 40. Illinois 5, 41T. Kentucky 4, 41T. Clemson 4, 41T. Binghamton 4, 44. Northwestern 3, 45. Princeton 1.

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