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June 23, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Stanford's Kirk is named Woman Athlete of the Year Stanford's Kirk is named Woman Athlete of the Year (June 23, 2004)

Swim star wins Honda-Broderick Cup as nation's top collegiate

by Keith Peters

The history of the Stanford women's swim team includes such recordholders and Olympic gold medalists as Janet Evans, Summer Sanders and Jenny Thompson.

Tara Kirk may not have their records or medals, but she does have something they don't - the Honda-Broderick Cup, which is presented to the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.

Kirk, who received the 28th such award on Monday during a press conference in New York City, is first student-athlete from Stanford to win the honor. "I really believe in women's sports, so it's a huge honor to win this award and a real thrill for me," said Kirk.

"Tara is an unbelievable student-athlete, and it is an unbelievable achievement for her to win the Honda-Broderick Cup," said Stanford head coach and three-time Olympic head coach Richard Quick. "It's a great honor for a very deserving individual to be honored among all the other outstanding female student-athletes involved with collegiate athletics."

Kirk currently holds one world record (100 breast -- short course meters) and six American marks.

She is also Stanford's school recordholder in the 100- and 200-yard breast, and a member of the school-record setting 400 yard medley relay team. Kirk won 11 NCAA crowns during her collegiate career and earned 16 All-American honors.

She became the first women's swimmer to ever win an NCAA title in a breaststroke event for four consecutive years -- winning the national title in each of her collegiate seasons in the 100 breast and finishing her collegiate career with an unbeaten 35-0 record in the event.

She also won the 200 breast in each of her final three campaigns and captured her final 19 collegiate races at the distance. She rounded out her NCAA titles by swimming the breaststroke leg on Stanford's winning 200- and 400-yard medley relay teams at both the 2001 and 2002 NCAA Championships. Kirk also added 14 career Pac-10 titles, including three in the 100-yard breast and three in the 200 yard breast.

"Tara Kirk had an outstanding collegiate career as a student-athlete and has proven to be one of the elite swimmers in the world," added Stanford Athletic Director Ted Leland. "We're honored that she has been recognized with such a prestigious award. The selection speaks volumes of her accomplishments, especially when considering the many outstanding female student-athletes that have represented Stanford."

The Collegiate Women Sports Awards are sponsored by American Honda Motor, Co., Inc. The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year balloting involves all NCAA-member institutions, with nominees selected from among 12 women chosen as the most outstanding in their sports during the school year.

Kirk had been named the nation's Most Outstanding Collegiate Woman Athlete in swimming and diving earlier on April 2 to receive a Honda Award and was named a Broderick-Cup finalist along with Catherine Reddick (North Carolina, soccer), April Ross (USC, volleyball), Diana Taurasi (Connecticut, basketball) and Jessica van der Linden (Florida State, softball) last week.

Kirk will be competing at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials in Long Beach (July 7-14) for an opportunity to represent the United States at the 2004 Olympic Games.

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