Beaver Relay Team Highlights Record-Setting Day

Dec. 6, 2002

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Oregon State swimmers broke five school records in four events and set a new meet record in the first full day of competition Friday in the Husky Invitational at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

The 400 medley relay team, consisting of Ausra Pacebutaite, Birte Steven, Suzanne Starkey and Kristin Huston, recorded OSU's first event win of the meet with a time of 3:44.31. That mark was a new meet record and new school record. OSU's previous record was 3:46.45 set at last season's Speedo Cup in Long Beach, Calif.

Naya Higashijima broke her own school record twice in the 500 freestyle. The OSU senior completed her preliminary race in four minutes, 50.86 seconds. She then bettered that mark by a tenth of a second in the final and finished second overall in the event. Her previous record was 4:51.74, which she set at last year's NCAA Championships.

Birte Steven bettered her school record in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:03.62 in her preliminary race. Steven, whose previous record was 2:04.01 set at last season's Pac-10 Championships, swam a 2:03.89 in the final to finish fourth.

OSU's 200 freestyle relay of Huston, Starkey, Pacebutaite and Paula Finlay finished third and also set a school record with a time of 1:35.66. The previous record stood at 1:35.73 and was set at the 2001 Pac-10 Championships.

'We swam very well across the board today,' OSU coach Mariusz Podkoscielny said. 'Traditionally we swim better as the meet goes on, but we have elevated our performances and I'm very pleased after the first day of true championship swimming. The team is extremely excited and they are representing OSU in the most positive way possible.'

Along with Steven and Higashijima, the Beavers had three other swimmers place in three of the individual event finals. Finlay took seventh in the 200 individual medley, Kristi Kuhlmey placed 8th in the 500 freestyle and Huston finished fourth in the 50 freestyle. Starkey won the 50 freestyle consolation final to earn 9th.

'Higashijima, Starkey and Finlay are really swimming well,' Podkoscielny said about the three, all seniors. 'Swimming is not like most sports in that you usually peak early in your college career. It's nice to see them reaching deep in their final collegiate season. It's an attribute to themselves.'

The Husky Invitational is the first championship-style college meet for 10 OSU freshmen, and Podkoscielny said it has been exciting to watch them swim.

'Every single freshman that has performed so far has had a season or personal best,' he said. 'They are making good adjustments in their first big college meet.'

Saturday is the longest day of the meet, with seven events scheduled. Preliminary races begin at 9:30 a.m. and finals start at 5 p.m.


First place and Oregon State

(Final times, and if better, preliminary times)

200 FREESTYLE RELAY - 1. UCLA A, 1:32.79; 3. Oregon State (Huston, Starkey, Pacebutaite, Finlay), 1:35.66; 16. Oregon State B 1:40.45. 500 FREESTYLE - 1. Erin Reilly, Sierra Marlins Swim Team, 4:47.93; 2. Naya Higashijima, Oregon State, 4:50.76 final (school record); 8. Kristi Kuhlmey, Oregon State, 5:00.11 (4:57.61 preliminary); 18. Danielle Kinney, Oregon State, 5:02.48. 200 IM - 1. Malin Svahnstrom, UCLA, 1:59.58; 4. Birte Steven, Oregon State, 2:03.89 (2:03.62 preliminary, school record); 7. Paula Finlay, Oregon State, 2:06.80 (2:05.09 preliminary); 16. Mari Embertson, Oregon State, 2:13.96 (2:06.13 preliminary); 21. Christina Kinney, Oregon State, 2:07.03 (2:06.99 preliminary). 50 FREESTYLE - 1. Kim Harada, Washington, 22.87; 4. Kristin Huston, Oregon State, 23:58; 9. Suzanne Starkey, Oregon State, 23.85; 24. Ausra Pacebutaite, Oregon State, 24.55 (24.46). 400 MEDLEY RELAY - 1. Oregon State A (Pacebutaite, Steven, Starkey, Huston), 3:44.31 (New meet record, school record); 7. Oregon State B, 3:54.34.

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