Kuchkarova Earns Record at Jayhawk Open

Final Results (.pdf)

 Pia Pavlic and Nika Fellows had strong
swims in the 200-yard freestyle.LAWRENCE, Kan. – Brief moments of exhilaration and disappointment were wiped away when Yulduz Kuchkarova carved her name on the Robinson Natatorium record board Saturday afternoon. Kuchkarova posted a pair of NCAA “B” standard times and led a collection of season-best performances, including Laura Bilsborrow, Pia Pavlic, Madison Straight and Caroline Patterson who set best times in every event they swam.

Kuchkarova swam the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 54.24, which beat the Iuliia Kuzhil’s record on board of 55.12 but narrowly missed Sam Corea’s time of 54.13 set at the Denver/Missouri State double-dual. After short disappointment in missing the 100 record, assistant coach Jen Fox and Kuchkarova decided to go for the 200. The sophomore from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, got what she wanted, breaking Iuliia Kuzhil’s 2010 time of 1:58.44 in 1:57.83—not far off her personal-best time of 1:57.14 set at the 2014 Big 12 Championship.

“I was really happy when I saw the 55 hanging up,” Kuchkarova said of her 100-yard backstroke. “I was like, ‘I went a 54, I beat it! Oh, wait…’ I remembered the girl from Denver had gone faster (earlier this season), so I knew that I didn’t really beat it. Then, coach Jen talked to me and told me I was ready for the 200 record, even though I didn’t think I was. It gave me courage and I just went for it.”

Kuchkarova had a much different start to the season from the rest of her teammates, as she trained to compete at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea Sept. 21-26. Saturday’s meet proved that she is right on track; both times open the door for competition at the 2015 NCAA Championship.

“Beginning this year was really different because I was training alone for the Asian Games,” Kuchkarova said. “It was exciting to come back and be with all of my teammates. It was a huge help to have my teammates encouraging me and helping me train hard and keep up with them.”

At the Jayhawk Open, the team was able to wear technical suits that are normally worn during championship meets. The event schedule followed that of a championship meet, including 17 events in one day. The event offered swimmers the opportunity to swim races they do not normally compete in during the regular season.

“It was nice to have a meet where they could do off-events,” Fox said. “I think that’s one strength of the team; the versatility.  Especially with our first three meets and the Kansas Classic, they had to swim their best events. It was a really fun meet to have their off-events but see that we do have depth and they’re still good in the off-events.”

In the 500-yard freestyle, all three Jayhawks entered went season-best times. Haley Molden took the event win with a time of 4:58.35, followed by Madison Straight in 4:59.97. Laura Bilsborrow dropped over 15 seconds from her best time, clocking in at 5:07.72.

Deanna Marks claimed the team’s second-fastest time of the season in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.04. Also setting season-best times were Caroline Patterson (25.46), Gretchen Pocisk (25.63) and Anna Peirano (26.10).

KU was well-represented in the 200-yard freestyle, with two times added to the top-five season times. Pavlic, who swam the event in 1:52.29 now holds the third-fastest time for the team this season and Nika Fellows holds the fourth-fastest with a time of 1:52.57.

Saturday’s competition marked the end of the fall season for KU. The Jayhawks continue the season in 2015 at the UCLA/San Diego double-dual in Los Angeles Jan. 10.

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