Cal Back in Action in Arizona This Week

Jan. 21, 2003

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The No. 9 California women's swimming and diving team (5-1, 1-0), lead by Sullivan Award semifinalist Natalie Coughlin, is back in action after a break for winter training. Coughlin, the nation's leader in seven individual events, spearheads a Golden Bears squad prepared for Pac-10 competition. Cal takes on No. 16 Arizona State Friday at 2 p.m., before heading to Tucson to swim against No. 10 Arizona Saturday at 1 p.m.

Last year, Cal defeated both Arizona State (173-125) and Arizona (135-108) in Berkeley. The Bears hold a 13-6 all-time lead over Arizona, but are in a tight record race with Arizona State at 10-10-1 all-time.

Cal finished second (744 pts) to defending national champion Auburn at the Auburn Invitational in early December. Coughlin's wins were the highlight of the meet, as the 2002 Best Female World Swimmer, broke two American records over the three-day competition. Coughlin set a new American, U.S. Open and NCAA mark in the 200 free (1:42.65) and destroyed the oldest American record on the books in the 200 fly with a time of 1:51.91. That record was formerly held by Cal's Mary T. Meagher's mark of 1:52.99, set April 8, 1981. Coughlin also posted a win in the 500 free. Senior Staciana Stitts also notched wins for Cal, placing first in the 100 (1:01.38) and 200 breast (2:13.63). Cal's relay teams were impressive as well, winning the 200 and 400 medley relays, 400 and 800 free relays and placing second in the 200 free relay.

The Bears had a fantastic fall, winning five dual meets with a lone loss to then-No. 2 Georgia on the road. Cal also won the Pacific Invitational and was runner-up at both the SMU Classic and Auburn Invitational. The Bears posted either NCAA automatic or consideration qualifying times in each swimming event. Freshmen swimmers did well in the fall as Ashley Chandler (dist. free), Whitney Rockwell (free), Kate Tiedeman (dist. free), Helen Silver (back) and Flora Kong (fly) each registered NCAA consideration times in their events.

Arizona State is led by sophomore breaststroker Agnes Kovacs who holds the nation's second-best times of the season in the 100 (59.92) and 200 breast (2:09.73). Arizona is coached by Frank Busch, who was recently selected as an assistant USA women's coach for the FINA World Championships, along with Cal head coach Teri McKeever, who was also selected as an assistant coach. The Wildcats went 2-1 in fall dual meets and are led by senior Beth Botsford and sophomore Emily Mason. Botsford holds the country's second-best times in the 100 (53.25) and 200 back (1:54.67), behind Cal's Coughlin. Mason's best time in the 500 free (4:39.77) ranks second in the nation this season, also behind Coughlin.

Cal's relay teams are among the best in the country. As of Jan. 15th, the Bears' 800 free relay team held the nation's top time of the season with a 7:13.52 time. Cal's 200 and 400 medley relays and 400 free relay teams have the season's second-best times in the country. The 200 and 400 medley relays have times of 1:40.82 and 3:39.22 respectively, while the 400 free relay team has clocked in a 3:19.37 finish.

Teri McKeever, the 2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, is in her 11th season as Cal's head women's swimming coach. McKeever was the 2002 recipient of the American Swimming Coaches Association's Coach of the Year award. She has an 89-38 (.701) dual meet record with the Golden Bears and a 143-60 (.704) overall record (five years as women's head coach at Fresno State). In the last six seasons, McKeever has led Cal to top 10 national finishes every year, including an eighth place showing at the 2002 NCAA Championships.

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