Bears Set World Record at NCAAs





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It's a big planet, in the scheme of things. Six billion or so people live on it. Of those six billion, only one person - or relay - can hold a world record at a time.

At the NCAA Women's Swimming Championship this past weekend, four Cal swimmers rose above the competition to prove themselves as the fastest in the world.

The Bears improved their national finish for the fifth year in a row, taking fourth (311.5) at the NCAA Championship meet in Indianapolis.

The highlight was the 200 medley relay, in which junior Haley Cope, freshman Staciana Stitts, senior Waen Minpraphal and sophomore Joscelin Yeo won the NCAA title and set a new world record (1:49.23). The Cal team broke the previous world record (1:49.47) set by Sweden in 1999.

The Bears also continued their consistent improvement in the national ranks. They placed ninth in the 1996-97 season, eighth in 1997-98, fifth last season and now fourth this year.

Cal finished behind defending national champion Georgia (490.5), Arizona (472) and Stanford (397).

Eleven Bears swimmers competed in 17 of the 18 swimming events against 240 athletes from Division I programs nationwide.

Cal swam several outstanding races, capturing more NCAA titles than anytime in school history.

"The difference in this year's performance comes down to sacrifice," Cal coach Teri McKeever said. "All 11 girls were really unselfish about relay spots, like some would swim in the morning to qualify the relay and then others would replace them in the evening. Everyone at the meet helped us to get that title."

Cope's 50 backstroke time of 27.25 in the medley relay also set a world record, beating Germany's Sandra Volkers' time of 27.27.

"When I looked up at the board (after my relay leg) and saw that I broke the world record, I was thinking, 'Please don't false start,'" Cope said. "Breaking that record was one of my goals this year."

The Bears' 200 freestyle relay was another outstanding race. On the first day of competition senior Anya Kolbisen, Cope, senior Nicole Omphroy and Yeo captured the NCAA title and set a new U.S. Open record (1:40.18), touching out the Cardinal team by three tenths of a second.

Cal's time in the 200 free overturned the old U.S. Open record (1:42.73) set by Americus Blue in 1992. This marked the Bears' first NCAA relay title in women's swimming.

While it was the only team that set world records this weekend, Cal wasn't the only squad to make its mark. This year's NCAAs was the first high-profile meet to be held in short-course meters in the U.S., fairly inviting the record books to be rewritten.

Eleven American records and one world-best time were set in addition to the two world records swum by the Bears.

Cal swimmers turned out impressive performances in the individual events as well.

Stitts tied for second in the 100 breastroke (1:06.79) with Northwestern senior Amy Balcerzak. Stitts also took third in the 200 breast (2:25.02) and her 50 breast split in the 200 medley relay (31.24) set an American record.

Senior Elli Overton closed out her collegiate career with top performances in the 200 and 400 individual medley events and the 200 fly. Overton took second in the 200 medley (2:10.74), sixth in the 400 (4:40.88) and fifth in the 200 breast (2:27.88).

Yeo also made major individual contributions to the team, finishing seventh in the 200 butterfly (2:12.45) and third in the 100 fly (58.82). Her splits in both winning relays were also crucial to the squad's victories.

Cope took second in the 100 backstroke with a 59.17 and sixth in the 100 fly (59.70).

The conclusion of the NCAA Championship marks the end of the 1999-2000 season for the Bears. The team finished third in the Pac-10 with an 8-2 record overall.

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