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When Tara Kirk Accomplished An Undefeated Profession In 100 Breaststroke

When Tara Kirk Accomplished An Undefeated Profession In 100 Breaststroke

World Report Flashback: When Tara Kirk Accomplished An Undefeated Profession In Type In 100 Breaststroke

In our newest version of World Report Flashback, we go to the 2004 faculty marketing campaign and Tara Kirk’s world normal on the NCAA Championships within the short-course meters model of the 100 breaststroke. The hassle enabled Kirk to place a bow on a rare faculty profession at Stanford College.


There was an added dynamic to the NCAA Championships of the 2004 season. After months of racing within the short-course yards format, the predominant setup for collegiate motion in america, the title competitions featured a change in method. Of their season-ending meets, athletes have been requested to navigate the short-course meters format.

As a result of 2004 was an Olympic 12 months, the Video games ultimately held in Athens, officers opted to contest racing in a course that allowed for world comparisons. This path was adopted in profitable style in 2000, when the Olympics unfolded in Sydney, and one other go would offer a chance to determine world information.

Tara Kirk took benefit.


Heading into the NCAA Championships on the Texas A&M Recreation Middle, Kirk was the undisputed favourite to say victory within the 100 breaststroke. She carried an unblemished report within the occasion for her profession. Thirty-five begins. Thirty-five wins. No slipups in dual-meet motion. An ideal run by way of the Pac-12 Champs. Three consecutive triumphs on the NCAA Champs.

As a lot as her 35-0 report shined brilliantly, Kirk was not proof against the stress that’s yearly felt at NCAAs. It’s the norm, and faculty swimming’s seasonal exclamation level is a novel meet, because it combines particular person expectations with the warmth of delivering for the workforce. Forward of the NCAA Championships, a shock consequence jolted one other Stanford program.

Throughout Kirk’s preparation for the postseason, the Stanford males’s basketball workforce noticed its 26-0 begin to the season come to a halt with an early-March loss to the College of Washington. Throughout an interview proper earlier than NCAAs, Kirk mentioned that defeat weighed on her as she managed her personal unbeaten streak (over a number of seasons). Nonetheless, the anticipation of an enormous efficiency and expertise finally enabled Kirk to enter competitors in a powerful way of thinking.

“I undoubtedly felt that I had a very good likelihood to interrupt the world report that day,” Kirk instructed Swimming World in a latest interview. “My transformed instances (from yards to meters) indicated that I had shot, and I used to be swimming nice. I suppose I did really feel stress to carry out, nevertheless it appeared like extra of a chance. Quick course, at NCAAs, that was usually a reasonably snug situation for me.”

As Kirk stepped onto the blocks for the ultimate of the 100 breaststroke, she was in management. Coming off an NCAA report of 1:05.44 from the preliminaries, a fourth straight crown was not in dispute. The query was whether or not Kirk might take down the world report, which belonged to Australian star Leisel Jones at 1:05.09.

By the point Kirk hit the halfway level of the race, Jones’ world normal was on life assist. Kirk made the flip in 30.29, which was good for an American report, and she or he continued to surge over the past two laps. As Kirk touched the wall, the scoreboard flashed a mark of 1:04.79, making the senior the primary girl to crack the 1:05 barrier. Kirk was so dominant that runner-up Sarah Poewe, a German from the College of Georgia, was greater than a second again in 1:06.02.

Kirk’s world report endured for greater than two years, till Jones fired again on the 2006 Australian Quick Course Championships. On back-to-back days, Jones popped performances of 1:04.12 and 1:03.86, and acquired as little as 1:03.00 by the 2009 season. Lately, the world report stands at 1:02.36, collectively owned by Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte and Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson.

Though her effort within the 100 breaststroke served because the spotlight of her NCAA farewell, Kirk additionally bested the sector within the 200 breaststroke, that win—in an American report time of two:20.70—marking her nineteenth straight within the occasion. Total, she departed faculty competitors with 11 collegiate titles, and was named NCAA Swimmer of the 12 months for the 2003-04 marketing campaign.


Together with her faculty days accomplished, Kirk turned her consideration to the most important summer season of her profession. In Lengthy Seaside, Calif., a second-place end within the 100 breaststroke at america Olympic Trials secured a berth to the Athens Video games. When the Olympics returned to their birthplace, Kirk posted a sixth-place displaying within the 100 breast. She additionally earned a silver medal within the 400 medley relay, due to her breaststroke leg in the course of the occasion’s preliminary heats. She shared her Olympic expertise together with her youthful sister, Dana, who represented Crew USA within the 200 butterfly.

“It meant lots to me,” Kirk mentioned of her world report. “I actually appreciated with the ability to finish my faculty profession on such a excessive be aware. Nevertheless it was additionally an Olympic 12 months, so it wasn’t one thing the place there was a number of alternative to dwell on it. There have been larger challenges coming only a few months forward to work towards.”

After the Athens Video games, Kirk earned the bronze medal within the 100 breaststroke on the 2005 World Championships and was the gold medalist within the occasion on the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships. On the 2007 World Championships, Kirk picked up a silver medal within the 100 breaststroke and secured bronze within the 50 breaststroke.

On the 2008 Olympic Trials, a third-place end within the 100 breaststroke left Kirk shy of an invite to the Beijing Video games. When Jessica Hardy, the winner of the occasion at Trials, failed a doping check, it appeared Kirk could be named to the workforce. As an alternative, the deadline for Kirk to be instituted as a alternative had handed, and Kirk was left dwelling.


Now married and a mother, Kirk is a senior scholar on the Johns Hopkins Middle for Well being Safety and an affiliate professor within the Division of Environmental Well being and Engineering on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Faculty of Public Well being. She has performed a vital position in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, together with offering enter on the reopening of Okay-12 colleges and analyzing non-pharmaceutical interventions to regulate the unfold of the coronavirus.

Though it has been practically 20 years since she was a star athlete in northern California and a daily fixture on america nationwide workforce, Kirk fondly appears again on her profession. Her time at Stanford was notably particular.

“I had the perfect time at Stanford,” Kirk mentioned. “I look again and simply take into consideration the alternatives and the open doorways and am simply so grateful that I went to Stanford.

“Though a number of work went into each my swimming and my research, it nonetheless looks as if such an idyllic time for me, crammed with thrilling challenges, a tremendous assist system, good associates and very nice climate. I see it because the launch pad for the life I’ve right this moment and am actually grateful for that.”