Steven Gains Another All-America Finish

March 21, 2003

AUBURN, Alab. - Oregon State's Birte Steven earned All-America honors for the third straight year Friday, placing 11th in the 100-yard breaststroke at the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at Martin Aquatics Center. OSU's Naya Higashijima finished 37th in the 400 individual medley as the Beavers found themselves in 35th place after Friday's events.

The meet concludes Saturday with Steven competing in the 200 breaststroke and Higashijima in the 200 butterfly. Both Beavers earned All-America honors in those events last season.

'I'm looking forward to Saturday,' OSU head coach Mariusz Podkoscielny said. 'I know tomorrow evening, when everything settles down after the meet, it's going to be a sad day because it will be Naya's last performance for Oregon State, and that's going to be really emotional.

'But we're looking forward to Saturday. We have a good opportunity to finish higher and to score more points than we did last year, and that's what we came here to do. We want to keep building through the weekend, and tomorrow is a big day for us - a big, big day.'

Steven, a junior, is now a four-time All-American after lowering her own school record in the 100 breaststroke twice on Friday. Steven finished her preliminary heat in 1 minute, 1.54 seconds for the 11th-fastest time of the morning, then dropped that to 1:01.39 in the consolation final to place 11th. Last season, Steven had placed 16th in the event.

'With Birte, we were trying to get as close to 1:01 as possible and the 1:01.39 was a fast swim. It was faster than a year ago, and she finished higher,' Podkoscielny said. 'She came out (in the finals) a little slower than in the morning, but she came back stronger. It was a much smarter race than in the morning; it looked like that she had trained for.'

Higashijima, a senior, went 4:22.88 in the 400 IM to finish 37th moved her up one spot from where she finished in the event a year ago.

'We didn't expect the finals in the 400 IM with Naya,' Podkoscielny said. 'We knew it was going to be fast and that it would take a 4:15, 4:16 to make the finals. But tomorrow, with the 200 fly, is a huge day for Naya.'

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