Sports

Tara Kirk Cranks It Up For NCAA Championships

AUBURN, Ala. — Tara Kirk finished off her junior year of competing for Stanford University with a pair of titles at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships last weekend at Auburn University in Alabama.

Kirk won her third consecutive title in the 100 breast with a time of 58.62 seconds and followed that with a 2:08.79 winning time in the 200 breast.

“Tara Kirk is just money in the 100 breast,” Stanford coach Richard Quick said. “She is consistent and strong, loves the event and races it so well. I’m really proud of her. She swam a courageous race (in the 200 breast). She got out to a quick start and was able to hang on for a satisfying and tough victory.”

“I’m always excited to win an NCAA championship,” said Kirk, a 2000 Bremerton High grad, who admitted her goal in the 100 breast was to break her own record.

Kirk’s two wins brings her NCAA title count to nine and she finished the season unbeaten in the 100 and 200 breast events. She set a new NCAA Meet record in the 100 breast — finishing just .21 seconds shy of equaling her own American record of 58.41 she set on Feb. 28 to win the 2003 Pac-10 title. Her time in the 200 breast set a new pool record.

Kirk also competed individually in the 200 IM where she finished 35th with a season-best 2:02.92.

Kirk teamed up with younger sister Dana, Amy Wagner and Lacey Boutwell to take fourth in the 400 medley relay with a season-best time of 3:35.16. The two Kirk sisters teamed with Wagner and Sarah Jones for second place in the 200 free relay with another season-best time of 1:38.42.

Dana Kirk had a strong showing in her first NCAA Championships. The freshman had her best collegiate showing in the 100 fly with a sixth-place finish in 52.94. The showing was the sixth-best all-time finish for a Cardinal swimmer. She was ninth in the 200 fly, winning the consolation race in 1:56.51 and tied for 45th in the 200 IM in 2:04.35.

The younger Kirk sister also helped the Cardinal 800 free relay (Boutwell, Kristen Caverly, and Ashley Daly) team take eighth in 7:13.74, 7.23 seconds faster than their Pac-10 Championships showing.

As a team, Stanford’s sixth-place finish marked the first time in 23 NCAA Championships that the Cardinal has not finished in the top three at the event and snapped a string of 27 consecutive top three national finishes dating back to five years before the first NCAA Championships here held in 1982.

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