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March 03, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Tara Kirk's U.S. record Tara Kirk's U.S. record (March 03, 2004)tops Pac-10 championship

by Keith Peters

That nice little winning streak put together by the Stanford men's basketball team is grabbing national headlines this season, but it can't touch the streak compiled by Cardinal senior swimmer Tara Kirk.

Kirk is unbeaten in 34 straight collegiate races in the 100 breast and has not lost in the 200 breast in two years. She kept those streaks alive last weekend while winning both events and helping Stanford reclaim the title at the Pac-10 Women's Swimming and Diving Championships in Long Beach.

Kirk won her fourth consecutive 100-yard breast crown on Friday in a season-best 59.19, then came back Saturday to capture the 200-yard breast in an American record of 2:07.13. That broke her own USA mark of 2:07.36 set in this meet last season.

"Tara Kirk swam a spectacular race," Stanford coach Richard Quick said of the 200 breast, which was Kirk's 14th overall Pac-10 title in her final race at the championships. "She orchestrated her performance beautifully and used her speed to dominate two other world-class breaststrokers in Birte Steven and 2000 Olympic champion Agnes Kovacs. They weren't able to go out with her and then she just never got tired."

Evidently, neither did Kirk's teammates. The Cardinal won seven events and scored 1,380 points to hold off second-place and defending champion UCLA (1,329).

Stanford had won the first 13 Pac-10 Championships (1987-99) before winning the league crown only once (2002) in the previous four years.

"I'm thrilled for the swimmers and divers on our team that we were able to regain the Pac-10 title," said Quick. "Hopefully, this is a stepping stone in the right direction to improve our performance at the NCAA Championships."

The Stanford swimmers will next compete at the NCAA Championships will be held March 18-20 in College Station, Texas. Cardinal divers will attempt to qualify for the event at the NCAA Zone E Meet March 11-13 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Kirk won two individual events and swam on the first-place 200 medley (1:39.87) and 400 medley relays (3:35.93).

Sophomore Dana Kirk won the 100 fly in 52.30, ranking her No. 4 on Stanford's all-time list, in addition to taking second in the 200 fly (fourth all-time at 1:54.00 ). Along with those two personal records, she swam behind her sister on both winning relays.

Junior Lacey Boutwell won the 50-yard free (a personal-record 22.60), took third in the 100 free (49.70), third in the 200 free (a personal-record 1:47.00) and swam on the third-place 400 free relay.

Freshman diver Cassidy Krug won her first conference title by taking the 1-meter springboard with 289.65 points and placed second on the 3-meter board with a collegiate best of 480.55. Castilleja grad Sarah Bowling was second on the platform with 397.30 points while Gunn grad Ashlee Rosenthal was third on the 1-meter.

Stanford had a total of 21 scoring performances on the final day of the meet.

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