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May 13, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, May 13, 2005

MV senior sets meet record MV senior sets meet record (May 13, 2005)

Whitney Campbell sprints to victory in 100-yard freestyle

By Scott Campbell

For someone whose true passion is horses, Whitney Campbell has turned into quite a swimmer.

The Mountain View senior etched her name into the record books with a resounding victory in the 100-yard freestyle at the De Anza Division Swimming Championships at Saratoga on May 6.

"It's pretty exciting," said Campbell, whose time of 52.36 beat the previous meet record of 52.47, set by Loni Burton of Monta Vista in 1998. "I've never really felt like the best or anything, so I'm not really sure how I should feel."

Palo Alto's Becky Wenzlau finished a distant second at 54.02.

An equestrian enthusiast, Campbell lived to ride and train horses. But recurring seizures and attacks of vertigo necessitated a change of interests.

"I was forced to stop riding because it was really dangerous for me, and [swimming] happened to be something I was good at," said Campbell, who hopes to pair an equine science major with swimming at a Division I school.

Inspired by her success in the water, Campbell began competitive swimming for De Anza Cupertino Aquatics (DACA) after her sophomore year.

The senior also won the 50-yard freestyle in 24.46, thus gaining All-American consideration for two events in the same day. All this despite late-December surgery to repair a swimming-related injury to her left shoulder from which she has yet to completely recover.

"It feels good," Campbell said of her incredible afternoon. "I've been wanting this for a while."

Campbell's accomplishments highlighted a day in which the Mountain View girls finished fourth and the boys placed fifth in the upper division's season-ending competition among seven schools.

The Spartans had particular success in the relays, with the girls finishing second behind Palo Alto in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle races, while the boys tied Gunn for second behind Monta Vista in the 400-yard freestyle event.

But it was the individual performances by Mountain View that stood out. In addition to Campbell's feats, sophomore Rebecca Koch and senior Fred Tran combined to win three individual events.

Koch sprinted out to a half body length's lead in the 100-yard butterfly and needed every bit of it to ward off Palo Alto's Monika Friedman.

"I could see her splashes out of the corner of my eye," said Koch, whose time of 57.80 not only beat Friedman by .04, but also was good for All-American consideration. "I was totally dead, but I tried to out-touch her."

The sophomore had earlier been runner-up to Campbell in the 50-yard freestyle.

"We really wanted to go one-two," said Koch, who finished the sprint in 25.19. "If I'd just been second by myself, it wouldn't have had any of the quality of knowing that we both placed."

Meanwhile, Tran so dominated the 100-yard butterfly that he was able to engage in a bit of gamesmanship. With a substantial lead nearing the end, Tran turned to give a long sideways glance at his flailing competition.

"[The look] was just having a little fun in my last [meet]," said Tran, whose time of 54.33 beat his nearest challenger by 2.66 seconds.

The senior was later thrilled to pocket an unexpected victory in the 100-yard backstroke. In the most dramatic finish of the meet, despite trailing by inches in the home stretch, Tran was able to edge Gunn's Matthew Prior by .01.

"Coming up first in that just totally blew my mind," said Tran, who finished in 54.85. "This is just the icing on the cake."

With the meet serving as the final full-team competition -- as only qualifying individuals and relay teams advance to the Central Coast Section Swimming and Diving Championships on May 13-14 -- the Spartans enjoyed their last chance to swim as a unit.

"In a high school meet, you're with all your friends and we all yell and scream for each other," said Koch. "You're swimming for your team and not just for yourself so much. I think it makes winning a lot more worthwhile."

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