Steven, Embertson Earn All-America Honors

The Oregon State duo of Birte Steven and Mari Embertson obliterated their former school records in the 100-meter breaststroke and 400 individual medley Friday evening at the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. Steven placed third in the 100 breaststroke - the highest placing ever for an OSU swimmer at the meet - and Embertson was seventh in the 400 individual medley.

The dynamically designed Texas A&M Student Recreation Center Natatorium was the perfect setting for the two to swim a pair of lifetime bests and earn All-America honors.

'Tonight could not have gone any better,' Oregon State head coach Larry Liebowitz said. 'Mari was absolutely fantastic, swimming her best time in the prelims and coming back to keep her seventh place spot.

'Birte, as always, was spectacular. She swam faster at at the end of the day to place her highest ever at the Championships.'

Steven, a senior and now six-time All-American, swam the 100 breaststroke in 1 minute, 6.82 seconds. As the NCAAs are being held in short course meters, which is a 25-meter swim from wall to wall, it is approximately 10 percent longer than the normal 25-yard course. Steven's time in yards converted to 59.87 seconds, besting her old school record of 1:00.68.

'I am very excited,' Steven said. 'It felt very good to swim the way I did, and I still have tomorrow to look forward to.'

'Birte's best event is still coming up,' Liebowitz said. 'So she has a lot of momentum going into tomorrow.'

Embertson, a junior and first time All-American, touched the wall in the 400 individual medley in 4:40.74. Converted to yards, her time equals 4:12.92, which beats her Pacific-10 Championships time of 4:14.80 by over two seconds. Embertson swam even faster in the preliminaries with a time of 4:40.08, which converts to a school-record 4:10.95.

'I had to keep asking myself, 'Is this really me up here?' I just couldn't believe it,' Embertson remarked of her All-America honors. 'I remember asking Larry the first day here - 'Do I really deserve to be here? I mean, I was around all these Olympian medalists and national title holders', and Larry just looked at me and said 'of course!'

'Then later today he repeated my question and asked what I thought. I definitely said yes! It was very cool to be a part of all this.'

After the second day of the three-day meet, Oregon State is tied for 18th place in the team standings with 28 points; also tied for 18th are Southern Methodist and Notre Dame. On Saturday's final day of competition, both Steven and Embertson will swim the 200 breaststroke with the day's preliminaries starting at 9 a.m. PST and the finals beginning at 5 p.m. PST.

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