Beaver Swimmers Set Point Record At Championships

March 1, 2003

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Oregon State set school records in four events and the Beavers finished eighth place with a school-record 544 points in team competition Saturday as the Pacific-10 Conference Women's Swimming and Diving Championships concluded at the King County Aquatics Center.

UCLA won the meet with 1,399 points despite not having any individual event champions. Washington finished seventh with 577.5 points, 33.5 in front of OSU.

'We knew going into the meet that it would be a close race for seventh,' Oregon State head coach Mariusz Podkoscielny said. 'Washington had a great meet and so did we. It was a fun Pac-10 meet with great competition.'

The Beavers had 11 entries in individual event finals Saturday, led by Birte Steven's third place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke. Steven broke her school record of two minutes, 12.02 seconds with a 2:11.75 preliminary race, and then lowered that mark with a 2:11.45 in the final.

Naya Higashijima swam to fourth place in the 1,650 freestyle, posting a time of 16:27.59 to better her previous record mark of 16:34.60 set in 2002. Kristi Kuhlmey placed 13th with a season-best time of 16:56.30.

Higashijima also competed in the 200 butterfly finals. The senior placed seventh was joined in the finals by Christina Kinney (11th), Monika Miroslaw (18th), and Suzanne Starkey (19th).

Freshman Ausra Pacebutaite broke Christy Ryerson's 200 backstroke record of 2:03.41 set in 1994, with a time of 2:02.73 in her preliminary race. Ryerson's record was tied for the longest standing record at Oregon State with Amy van Loben Sels mark in the 50 freestyle. Pacebutaite finished 15th overall in the event, and Ashleigh Thomas came in 23rd.

In the 400 freestyle relay, Kristin Huston, Pacebutaite, Christina Kinney and Steven recorded a 3:27.74 to finish eighth and break the school record of 3:28.08, which was set by J. J. Bontrager, Shireen Taylor, Traci Lamour and van Loben Sels in 1995. Current Oregon State swimmers now hold school records in 15 of 17 events.

'Huston couldn't swim in prelims Saturday because of an injury and just toughed it out to swim on the relay, which was just exceptional,' Podkoscielny said. 'I was very proud of the team today. Yesterday knocked us down, but we came back on a mission. We broke nine school records and erased top 10 lists all over the place.

'Our goal was to finish seventh, but we showed a lot of character and had a very successful meet. I'm very proud of our seniors for their outstanding finish and leadership. It's a bittersweet situation watching them compete in their final Pac-10 Championships.'

The Beavers previous best point total at the Pac-10s was 477, which was accomplished at last year's meet. Prior to that, Oregon State had never reached the 300-point plateau.

Several Oregon State swimmers will participate in time trials in a last chance meet Sunday in hopes of meeting qualifying times for the NCAA Championships. The NCAAs take place March 20 through 22nd at Auburn, Alabama.


1. UCLA 1,399; 2. Stanford 1,308; 3. Southern California 1,138; 4. Arizona 1,013; 5. California 940.5; 6. Arizona State 765; 7. Washington 578.5; 8. Oregon State 544; 9. Washington State 299.

(1st place and Oregon State)

Preliminary times in parentheses if better than final

1,650 FREESTYLE - 1. Kaitlin Sandeno, USC, 15:54.41; 4. Naya Higashijima, OSU, 16:27.59; 13. Kristi Kuhlmey, OSU, 16:56.30; 26. Jillian McMinn, OSU, 17:26.31; 28. Danielle Kinney, 17:30.14. 200 BACKSTROKE - 1. Julie Manitt, UA, 1:58.33; 15. Ausra Pacebutaite, 2:03.33 (2:02.73 prelim); 23. Ashleigh Thomas, OSU, 2:06.13 (2:05.89 prelim); 26. Jessie Hong, OSU, 2:08.40. 100 FREESTYLE - 1. Natalie Coughlin, Cal, 47.42; 36. Leanne Svoboda, OSU, 55.25; Danielle Kinney, OSU, x53.93. 200 BREASTSTROKE - 1. Tara Kirk, Stan., 2:07.37; 3. Birte Steven, OSU, 2:11.45; 11. Paula Finlay, OSU, 2:16.11; 16. Mari Embertson, OSU, 2:18.68 (2:17.52 prelim); 36. Chelsea Keown, OSU, 2:32.85. 200 BUTTERFLY - 1. Michala Kwasny, USC, 1:55.75; 7. Naya Higashijima, OSU, 1:58.76 (1:58.07 prelim); 11. Christina Kinney, OSU, 2:02.43; 18. Monika Miroslaw, OSU, 2:02.62; 19. Suzanne Starkey, OSU, 2:04.19; 31. Leah Schaab, OSU, 2:07.83. 400 FREESTYLE RELAY - 1. Stanford, 3:19.82; 8. Oregon State (Huston, Pacebutaite, Kinney, Steven) 3:27.74.

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