KU’s Kuchkarova Lowers Own Uzbekistani Record, Swims FINA B Cut
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – Half a world away from her home in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Kansas junior Yulya Kuchkarova reached into the national record books and left another mark with a speedy performance in the 100-meter backstroke Friday morning at the USA AT&T Winter Nationals. Kuchkarova was one of four Jayhawks to swim inside Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center Friday, and was joined by Chelsie Miller in advancing to finals.
Kuchkarova’s lifetime-best swim of 1:01.69 in the 100 back prelims broke her previous national record of 1:02.67 from 2014 Summer Sectionals and solidified a FINA ‘B’ standard for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.
Kuchkarova, who represented Uzbekistan at the 2012 London Olympics and is now eligible for selection to Rio, was 15th fastest among the talented competitors in prelims and the time put her into the ‘B’ finals late Friday. She was unable to better her time, but did turn in another sub-1:02 time.
“We’re really proud of her,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said of Kuchkarova, who also set a national record in the 50-meter back in time trials Thursday. “That 100 has been a monkey on her back for a long time now. She hasn’t been able to get under 1:02 for two years and to get her best time also, it was a big step for her.”
Miller also earned a spot in finals with her swim in the 400-meter individual medley. The Houston, Texas product kicked it into gear after a sluggish first couple of strokes and moved up two places to finish sixth in her heat and 14th overall in prelims in 4:51.55.
KU’s All-American returned to the pool for finals and cut three seconds off of her previous time. She finished fifth in the evening race with a swim of 4:48.25, four seconds shy of her current Olympic Trials qualifying time.
“With what we’ve been doing this fall compared to what she was doing this summer, the morning swim was a little rough,” Campbell said. “She’s on such a unique plan because her table is set for Trials so this fall has been all about the training and getting her fitness level as high as we can. She’s having to race tough in this meet but what we’re seeing is that every swim has been getting better so we’re really excited.”
Two additional Jayhawks, Haley Molden and Lydia Pocisk, participated in Friday morning’s action but their times weren’t enough to earn a bid to finals and both are close but still looking for 2016 Olympic Trials cuts. Molden competed in the 200-meter freestyle, swimming a time of 2:05.63, while Pocisk registered a mark of 1:14.97 in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Kansas’ Nationals contingent has a full slate Saturday with all five Jayhawks in attendance competing in five events. Kuchkarova will take the pool first as she looks to earn her second FINA qualifying time, this time in the 200-meter backstroke.
Freshman Libby Walker will take the starting blocks for the first time during the three-day event. She will join Miller in the 200-meter butterfly followed and then swim the 800-meter freestyle. Both Walker and Miller have already recorded trials cuts in the 200 fly.
Molden will swim for an Olympic Trials cut in the 100-meter freestyle, while Pocisk will do the same in the 200-meter breaststroke.
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