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Monday March 19, 2001

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Women Swimmers finish 5th at 2001 NCAA Championships

By Lindsey Manroel

Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA captures 2 individual wins

After spending the last weekend of their spring break in Long Island, N.Y., competing in the 2001 NCAA Championships, the members of the Arizona swim team returned to Tucson slightly disappointed.

The Wildcats placed fifth with 304 points.

"We wanted to try to win a trophy, but mostly we wanted to swim our best," junior Jenny Vanker said. "I don't think that the place matters because you can't control what the other teams do. All you can ask for is for your best effort, and everyone did a great job."

Returning champions Georgia took home the win with 389 points, followed by Stanford (387.5), Texas (350.5) and Auburn (324).

Unable to leave a better mark than the second-place finish the Wildcats set at the 2000 NCAA Championships, the UA women are slightly upset with their performance.

"I think the girls are disappointed because when you become accustomed to finishing in the top four, you think that's where you belong," Busch said. "But it was a very competitive meet, and our girls performed very well."

Despite the fifth-place finish, Arizona put on a heart-pounding performance in both the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard breaststroke.

After trailing by a body length in the last 100-yard stretch, sophomore Amanda Beard made an impressive comeback, taking the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:09.09 - only .09 of a second ahead of Stanford's Tara Kirk.

"It was one of the most incredible races I have ever seen," Busch said. "She came from behind and made up over a body length (deficit). It was an amazing swim."

Junior Sarah Tolar captured her first-ever NCAA individual title in the meet. The Wildcat came from behind and touched the wall first in the 200-yard freestyle, recording a time of 1:45.21.

According to teammate Vanker, both swimmers pulled off impressive victories.

"They cut it a little close, but both Sarah and Amanda's swims were really exciting and fun to watch," Vanker said. "We are proud of both of them."

Wildcat Beth Botsford - the defending national champion in the 200-yard backstroke - was unable to hold her title for another year.

The sophomore came up short, placing second with a time of 1:55.65.

Botsford's successor - California freshman Natalie Coughlin - broke four records to capture the 200-yard backstroke crown.

With a time of 1:51.02, the Golden Bear broke NCAA meet records, the NCAA record and the U.S. Open and American record.

Seniors Lindsay Berryman and Adrian David rounded off Arizona's individual success.

The two Wildcats took home eighth and 16th place, respectively, in the 10-meter platform.

While Beard and Tolar's NCAA performances qualified them for the World Championship Trials, beginning March 27 and running through April 1 in Austin, Texas, the rest of the team's season has ended.