No. 7 Cal Hosts the 2003 Pac-10 Championships

Feb. 25, 2003

The University of California women's swimming and diving team is in action this week, hosting the 2003 Pac-10 Women's Swimming and Diving Championships in Federal Way, WA. The meet is Thursday through Saturday (Feb. 27-Mar. 1). Swimming preliminaries begin at 11 a.m. each day with finals starting at 6 p.m. Diving, which includes both women's and men's teams, begins after the swimming prelims.

Cal is ranked No. 7 in the latest College Swim Coaches Association of America's Top 25 poll. The Bears started their season off strong, winning their opening meet against Pacific, then posting a runner-up finish at the SMU Classic and placing first in the Pacific Invitational. The team suffered a setback at Georgia Nov. 1, but used the meet as motivation and quickly reeled off five straight victories and a second-place showing at the Auburn Invitational. The Bears opened up the Pac-10 season with a split at the Arizona schools, defeating No. 16 Arizona State, but falling to No. 10 Arizona. The team returned to Berkeley and promptly swept the Los Angeles schools with a decisive 167-133 victory over No. 4 USC and a 157.5-142.5 win over No. 13 UCLA. Cal ended the season with a ulcerating 154-146 loss to then-No. 7 Stanford, but is ready to move on to the Pac-10 Championships.

Last year, the Bears took fourth place (1,096 points) at the Pac-10 Swimming and Diving Championships. Among Cal's returning swimmers, seniors Michelle Harper and Staciana Stitts, juniors Natalie Coughlin and Danielle Becks and sophomore Lauren Medina posted Top 5 finishes at the 2002 Pac-10s. Coughlin, a two-time NCAA and Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year, won conference championships titles in both of her first two seasons. This year, Coughlin returns to defend her 2002 100/200 back and 100 fly titles. In those events she set NCAA, Pac-10 and meet records, only to rewrite those at the NCAA Championships. Last season, Harper finished third in the 50 free (23.19) and Stitts claimed two fourth-place finishes in the 100 (1:01.21) and 200 breast (2:12.03). Cal's relay teams were impressive as the 200 free relay squad of Stitts, Coughlin, Becks and Harper (1:30.47) and the 200 medley relay team of Coughlin, Stitts, Alice Henriques and Harper (1:39.20) both garnered championship titles. The 400 medley relay team of Henriques, Stitts, Coughlin and Becks (1:39.20) earned a runner-up finish, while the 400 free relay team finished fourth (3:20.86) and the 800 free relay squad took fifth place (7:26.04).

The Bears finished eighth at last year's NCAA Championships and came away from the elite meet with nine swimmers earning All-American honors. The 2002 NCAA Swimmer of the Year, Natalie Coughlin, headlined the group that also included seniors Staciana Stitts and Michelle Harper, junior Danielle Becks and sophomore Lauren Medina. Coughlin was the Bears' top performer, defending her three titles in the 100 fly and 100 and 200 back, by setting new American and NCAA records in each event. The junior, named Swimming World's 2002 Female World Swimmer of the Year, was recently named one of five finalists for the prestigious AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award given to the year's top amateur athlete. It was the second straight year that she has been named a finalist.

50 Free-Natalie Coughlin, 23.26 'B'; Whitney Rockwell, 23.36 'B'; Danielle Becks, 23.38 'B'; Michelle Harper, 23.46. 100 Free-Natalie Coughlin, 48.02 'A'; Danielle Becks, 50.48 'B'. 200 Free-Natalie Coughlin, 1:42.65 'A' (American/NCAA/U.S. Open/School record); Ashley Chandler, 1:49.36 'B'; Lauren Medina, 1:50.07 'B'; Danielle Becks, 1:50.21 'B'. 500 Free-Natalie Coughlin, 4:37.62 'A' (school record); Ashley Chandler, 4:50.87 'B'. 1650 Free-Ashley Chandler, 16:29.15 'B'; Kate Tiedeman, 16:43.75 'B'. 100 Back-Natalie Coughlin, 52.22 'A'; Helen Silver, 55.79 'B'. 200 Back-Natalie Coughlin, 1:57.38 'A'; Helen Silver, 1:58.25 'B'. 100 Breast-Staciana Stitts, 1:00.80 'A'. 200 Breast-Staciana Stitts, 2:13.52 'A'; Marcelle Miller, 2:16.81 'B'. 100 Fly-Natalie Coughlin, 51.88 'A'. 200 Fly-Natalie Coughlin, 1:51.91 'A' (American/NCAA/U.S. Open/school record); Flora Kong, 2:01.99 'B'; Lisa Morelli, 2:02.39 'B'. 200 IM-Natalie Coughlin, 2:00.62 'A'; Staciana Stitts, 2:02.65 'B'; Natalie Griffith, 2:02.82 'B'; Amy Ng, 2:04.08 'B'. 400 IM-Natalie Coughlin, 4:11.76 'A'; Natalie Griffith, 4:19.31 'B'; Amy Ng, 4:21.83 'B'. 200 Medley Relay-(Silver, Stitts, Coughlin, Harper), 1:40.82 'B'. 400 Medley Relay-(Silver, Stitts, Coughlin, Becks), 3:39.22 'B'. 200 Free Relay-(Becks, Coughlin, Rockwell, Harper), 1:31.48 'B'. 400 Free Relay-(Coughlin, Becks, Stitts, Bingaman), 3:19.37 'A'. 800 Free Relay-(Chandler, Coughlin, Becks, Medina), 7:13.52 'B'.

Lists of the nation's top times are splashed with the names of Golden Bears. The following Cal swimmers are listed on the Feb. 5 national Top 75 lists. Additionally, Cal's relays are among the best in the nation as the 800 free relay team is ranked No. 1, the 200 and 400 medley relays and 400 free relay are No. 2 and the 200 free relay has turned in the fourth-best time in the nation this year.

Natalie Coughlin-50 free (21st, 23.26), 100 free (1st, 48.02), 200 free (1st, 1:42.65), 500 free (1st, 4:37.62), 1000 free (16th, 9:55.25), 100 back (1st, 52.22), 200 back (6th, 1:57.38), 100 fly (1st, 51.88), 200 fly (1st, 1:51.91), 200 IM (10th, 2:00.62), 400 IM (4th, 4:11.76); Ashley Chandler-200 free (29th, 1:49.36), 500 free (36th, 4:50.87), 1000 free (27th, 9:58.72), 1650 free (18th, 16:29.15); Amy Ng-200 back (t75th, 2:02.97), 200 IM (54th, 2:04.08), 400 IM (43rd, 4:21.83); Staciana Stitts-100 breast (4th, 1:00.80), 200 breast (7th, 2:13.52), 200 IM (20th, 2:02.65); Danielle Becks-50 free (33rd, 23.38), 100 free (25th, 50.48); Natalie Griffith-200 IM (43rd, 2:03.63), 400 IM (22nd, 4:19.31); Whitney Rockwell-50 free (31st, 23.36), 100 fly (62nd, 56.16); Helen Silver-100 back (27th, 55.79), 200 back (11th, 1:58.25); Kate Tiedeman-1000 free (38th, 10:02.53), 1650 free (33rd, 16:43.75); Michelle Harper-50 free (72nd, 23.67); Flora Kong-200 fly (46th, 2:01.99); Lauren Medina-200 free (59th, 1:50.07); Marcelle Miller-200 breast (29th, 2:16.81); Lisa Morelli-200 fly (57th, 2:02.39).


Sprint Free
Though junior Natalie Coughlin has posted Cal's top times in the 50 (23.26) and 100 free (48.02) events, junior Danielle Becks and freshman Whitney Rockwell have also been solid for the Bears in the sprints. Becks owns Cal's second-best time in the 100 free, an NCAA consideration time of 50.48. She holds the third-best time in the 50 free, also with a consideration time of 23.38. Rockwell has made the NCAA qualifying cut as well, posting a consideration time in the 50 free of 23.36-Cal's second-best time of the season. Senior Michelle Harper also has an NCAA 'B' time in the 50 free at 23.46, while freshman Cheryl Anne Bingaman swam Cal's third-best time in the 100 free at 51.47.

Mid-to-Distance Free
Coughlin leads four swimmers who have posted NCAA consideration qualifying times in the 200 free. Earlier this season, Coughlin set a new American, NCAA, U.S. Open and school record in the event in 1:42.65. Following her lead is freshman Ashley Chandler with a 'B' time of 1:49.36. Sophomore Lauren Medina also has an NCAA 'B' time of 1:50.07, while Becks has Cal's fourth-best time of the season, a 'B' time at 1:50.21. Coughlin posted another school record and automatic qualifying time in the 500 free with the nation's best time of 4:37.62. Chandler also has a consideration time in the 500 free at 4:50.87. In the 1650 free, Chandler and fellow freshman Kate Tiedeman swam consideration times this season, as Chandler has the team's best time of 16:29.15 and Tiedeman follows with 16:43.75.

The Bears enjoy having on the world's best backstrokers on their team in Coughlin, but are equally ecstatic about what newcomer Helen Silver has added to the event. Coughlin notched an early NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 200 back (1:57.38) last October and posted an 'A' time in the 100 back (52.22) earlier this month. Silver, a Washington native, has solid NCAA consideration times in the 100 back (55.79) and 200 back (1:58.25). Adding to that mix is sophomore Amy Ng's respectable times of 58.57 in the 100 and 2:02.44 in the 200 back.

Senior Staciana Stitts finishes her collegiate career as Cal's greatest breaststroker ever. In addition to being an Olympic gold medallist, Stitts has garnered NCAA and Pac-10 Championships titles and has inked her name into Cal's record books with the best times ever in the 100 (1:00.31) and 200 breast (2:11.34). Stitts has posted NCAA automatic qualifying times this season in both the 100 (1:00.80) and 200 breast (2:13.52) and is ready to improve on her fourth-place national finishes from a year ago. The breaststroker event has been bolstered by solid performances from sophomores Marcelle Miller and Natalie Griffith. Miller posted an NCAA 'B' time in the 200 breast (2:16.81)-Cal's second-fastest time of the season-and holds the Bears' third-best time in the 100 breast (1:04.36). Griffith has Cal's second-best time in the 100 breast (1:04.24) and third-best in the 200 breast (2:18.81).

NCAA qualifying times are limited for Cal in the 100 butterfly, as only Coughlin has posted an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 100 fly (51.88). Freshman Flora Kong is less than a second away from a consideration time in the 100 fly at 56.10-the NCAA 'B' time is 55.76. In the 200 fly, Coughlin destroyed the American record in early December with a time of 1:51.91. The record stood as the oldest on the books and was previously held by former Cal star Mary T. Meagher (1:52.99). Kong has posted a 'B' time in the 200 fly at 2:01.99 and sophomore Lisa Morelli recently notched a 'B' time in the 200 fly (2:02.39), as well.

Individual Medley
The IM events are a strength on Cal's squad this season as four different Bears have posted NCAA qualifying times. Coughlin leads the group with automatic times in both the 200 (2:00.62) and 400 IM (4:11.76). Stitts has Cal's second-best time, an NCAA 'B' time, in the 200 IM (2:02.65). Griffith holds Cal's second-best time in the 400 IM (4:19.31) and third-best time in the 200 IM (2:02.82)-both consideration times. Ng rounds out the qualifying times, posting 'B' times in both the 200 (2:04.08) and 400 IM (4:21.83), as well.

Senior Christina Flynn is Cal's top diver and has posted several wins this season. She swept both the one-meter and three-meter competitions at Georgia and Clemson and in San Jose State and Oregon State. Sophomore Alyson Borawski has also produced several solid performances this season.

After hosting the 2003 Pac-10 Championships, the team takes a short two-week break in preparation for the 2003 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. Hosted by Auburn University, the NCAA Championships are staged at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center, Mar. 20-22. The natatorium was recently the site of the 2003 Southeastern Conference Championships and previously held the 1998 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships.

Teri McKeever, the 2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, is in her 11th season as Cal's head women's swimming coach. Last fall, McKeever was the 2002 recipient of the American Swimming Coaches Association's Coach of the Year award. She has a 91-39 (.700) dual meet record with the Golden Bears and a 147-62 (.703) 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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