April 7, 2003
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The 2003 ConocoPhillips Spring National Championships concluded on Saturday evening after five days of competition that included more than 1,000 swimmers. ASU's contingent of eight student-athletes set eight lifetime bests over the course of the week and were led by ?gnes Kov?cs, who won the national championship in the 200m breaststroke and finished second in both the 100m breaststroke and the 200m IM.
Sun Devil Head Swimming Coach Michael Chasson feels the meet was an unqualified success for ASU's swimmers, who were swimming in their first long course meet of the year.
"Going to long-course meters from the NCAA standard of short course yards, you never know what's going to happen," he said. "But we had a number of best times and we had a lot of people have some really good swims during the week."
Kov?cs' outstanding meet saw her finish as the number three overall female scorer and the top women's collegiate swimmer. Her week started off ideally as she won the national championship in the 200m breaststroke on Wednesday (2:29.48) in a rematch of the 2000 Olympics 200m breast finals between Kov?cs and Kristy Kowal. Kov?cs and Kowal finished 1-2 in Sydney, and the ASU sophomore ensured the same finish at this year's U.S. Spring Nationals by touching the wall two-tenths of a second in front of Kowal. The field also included the 2003 NCAA 200y breaststroke champion Tara Kirk and NCAA runner-up Anne Poleska.
Kov?cs swam in two other individual events during the meet and finished second in both. Her 1:09.28 effort in the 100m breaststroke on Friday placed her ahead of Kowal and Megan Quann, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist in the event. In the 200m IM on Saturday, Kov?cs clocked a 2:16.54 to set a lifetime best and finish second only behind Amanda Beard. Kov?cs will swim for her native Hungary this summer in the 10th FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain. She looks to defend her World title in the 200m breaststroke.
ASU junior Petra Banovic swam lifetime bests in the 100m and 200m freestyle races. In Wednesday's 100m, she recorded a 58.04 in the morning prelims to place 34th, while her 2:03.82 in Thursday's 200m "C" final placed her 23rd. The 200m time set a new Croatian National record, the country Banovic swims for internationally.
Sophomore Florencia Szigeti placed 20th in the 100m freestyle (57.39), 47th in the 200m free (2:05.40), and tied for 47th in the 50m free (27.10) during the week.
Senior Claire Hedenskog swam her only individual event, the 50m freestyle, on Saturday, where she clocked a 26.80 to tie for 28th and narrowly miss advancing to the evening's finals by eight-hundredths of a second.
The four Sun Devil women in Indianapolis competed in two relays during the week and advanced to the championship "A" final in both. The 400m free relay on Thursday placed fifth with a 3:51.66, while the 400m medley relay placed fourth on Saturday after registering a 4:16.35.
The quartet of Sun Devil men's swimmers at the meet made their mark at the IU Natatorium, as all four finished in the top ten in at least one event with five total lifetime bests recorded during the week.
Junior Ahmed Hussein, an Egyptian Olympian, set new Egyptian National records in both the 100m backstroke and 200m backstroke. On Wednesday, he placed sixth in the 200m back finals (2:02.62) after his prelim of 2:01.37 set a new lifetime best. Hussein only picked up the pace two days later, as he placed fourth in the 100m back (56.03) and was the top collegiate finisher. He defeated two-time defending NCAA 100y backstroke champion Peter Marshall, who finished fifth in the race.
Freshman David Kolozar also recorded a fourth place finish at the meet, his in the 200m butterfly on Wednesday (2:00.06). His 55.58 in the 100m fly finals on Friday earned him a tie for 18th and a lifetime best.
Senior Christian Harcsas recorded two top-10 finishes during the meet and one personal best. On Tuesday, he competed in the "A" final of the 200m backstroke, where he placed eighth with a 2:05.13. In the 100m backstroke two days later, Harcsas set a personal best time of 57.30 which placed him 10th overall.
Junior Nick Brunelli kept his momentum going from the NCAA Championships only a week prior-where he set three personal bests-and set a lifetime best in the 50m freestyle on Saturday. His preliminary time of 23.23 was only one-hundredth of a second shy of advancing to the "A" final, and in the evening's "B" final Brunelli dominated the field with 22.92, over six-tenths of a second ahead of his nearest competitor, to finish ninth. Both times that he recorded on Saturday are good enough to qualify Brunelli for the Olympic Trials. He competes later this summer for the United States at the Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic.