March 3, 2002
TEMPE, Ariz. - ?gnes Kov?cs' first-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke highlighted Arizona State's performance at the women's Pac-10 Swimming & Diving Championships, contested primarily at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach, Calif., February 28 through March 2.
In all, ASU came away with one first-place finish, four runner-up finishes and seven school records. As a team, the 12th-ranked Sun Devils placed sixth for the seventh consecutive season, finishing only behind teams that they also trail in the national rankings.
Kov?cs edged Stanford's Tara Kirk by four-hundredths of a second to win the 200y breast in 2:07.75, a school, conference and meet record time. Her win brought home ASU's first Pac-10 event title since 1995, when the Sun Devils won five crowns led by Beata Kaszuba, who won the 100y and 200y breast and was member to ASU's victorious 400y medley relay team.
Kov?cs also turned in runner-up efforts in the 400y individual medley and 100y breast. In the 400y IM, Kov?cs improved her school record from 4:11.68 to 4:10.77, while California's Michala Kwasny placed first in 4:09.48. In the 100y breast, Kirk established an NCAA and American record in 58.68, while Kov?cs swam her collegiate best time of 1:00.48.
Only Kaszuba's 59.71 ranks ahead of Kov?cs on ASU's all-time 100y breast list. Third all-time on ASU's 100y and 200y breast lists is senior Riley Mants, who placed ninth (1:02.50) and fifth (2:12.04), respectively in her final Pac-10 Championships.
Other runner-up finishes were earned by senior Sarah Baham and sophomore Brooke Townsend. Baham, who was already ASU's school record holder in the 100y and 200y butterfly, eclipsed both bests at the conference meet, placing second in the 100y fly in 53.58 and third in the 200y fly in 1:56.81. Townsend earned her second-place finish in the 1650y freestyle, swimming 16:23.07 to become the second-fastest Sun Devil all-time in that event. Townsend also placed third in the 500y free (4:45.77) and 15th in the 200y free (1:50.10).
Aiding Townsend in the distance free events was senior Amanda Stanford, who smashed her personal bests en route to a fifth-place finish in the 1650y free (16:29.67), sixth-place finish in the 500y free (4:47.80) and 13th-place finish in the 200y free (1:49.51). In the sprint free events, junior Claire Hedenskog placed seventh in the 50y free (23.47) and 11th in the 100y free (50.74). Hedenskog also anchored ASU's 200y free and 400y medley relays, which placed third (3:37.46) and sixth (1:32.59), respectively, in school-record times. She was also member to ASU's fifth-place 400y free relay squad that became the second fastest team in school history in 3:22.48.
ASU's other school record to fall during the meet was that of the 100y backstroke. Sophomore Miranda Shald placed sixth in the event in 55.09, but her fastest 100y back effort came via the 400y medley relay, in which she clocked an opening split of 54.98.
The women's and men's diving portion of the Pac-10 Championships was contested at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center in Tucson, Ariz., in unison with the women's swimming portion. The Sun Devils had their greatest success in the 1-meter springboard, where senior Natalie Burgess led the women with a sixth-place finish, while Thomas McCrummen and Gordon Blukis went for third and fifth on the men's side.
Up next are the men's Pac-10 swimming championships, March 7-9, which will also be contested in Long Beach, Calif. ASU divers will attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championships at the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships in Stanford, Calif., March 14-16. The women's NCAA swimming and diving championships are March 21-23 in College Station, Texas. The men's national championship meet runs from March 28-30 in Athens, Ga.