March 21, 2023
When Tara Kirk Completed an Undefeated Career at 100 Breaststrokes

Flashback World File: When Tara Kirk Stylishly Accomplished an Undefeated Profession in 100 Breaststrokes

In our newest World File Historical past version, we go to the 2004 faculty marketing campaign and Tara Kirk’s world commonplace on the NCAA Championships within the brief course meter model of the 100 breaststroke. The trouble enabled Kirk to succumb to an impressive collegiate profession at Stanford College.


There was an added dynamic to the NCAA Championship of the 2004 season. After months of racing within the brief course format that was the dominant sample for school motion in the US, title competitions had a change in strategy. In the long run-of-season matches, the athletes have been requested to navigate within the short-lane meter format.

Since 2004 was the Olympic yr and the Video games have been lastly held in Athens, the authorities selected to race the races on a course that allowed for world comparisons. This path was adopted efficiently when the Olympics started in Sydney in 2000 and would offer a chance to set world data one other time.

Tara Kirk give a bonus.


Going to the NCAA Championships on the Texas A&M Recreation Middle, Kirk was the undisputed favourite, claiming victory within the 100 breaststrokes. He carried an impeccable report on the occasion for his profession. Thirty-five begins. Thirty-five wins. There isn’t any mistake within the act of double courting. A wonderful run on the Pac-12 Champs. Three consecutive victories on the NCAA Champs.

Whereas his 35-0 report shone brightly, Kirk wasn’t proof against the stress felt yr after yr on the NCAAs. It is the norm, and the seasonal exclamation level of faculty swimming is a novel get-together because it combines particular person expectations with the heat of placing one thing out for the staff. Forward of the NCAA Championship, a shock end result shook up one other Stanford program.

Throughout Kirk’s postseason preparations, the Stanford males’s basketball staff noticed their 26-0 begin to the season come to an finish with a loss to Washington College in early March. In an interview simply earlier than the NCAAs, Kirk stated that defeat weighed closely on him as he ran his personal undefeated streak (for a number of seasons). Nevertheless, an amazing expectation of efficiency and expertise in the end allowed Kirk to enter the competitors in a powerful temper.

“I undoubtedly felt like I had a extremely good likelihood to interrupt the world report that day,” Kirk advised Swimming World in a current interview. “My transformed instances (yards to yards) confirmed that I used to be capturing effectively and swimming nice. I suppose I felt stress to carry out, however it appeared extra like a chance. Quick course within the NCAAs, that was usually a fairly comfy situation for me.

When Kirk stepped onto the blocks for the ultimate of 100 breaststrokes, he was in management. A fourth crown was uncontested, setting an NCAA report of 1:05.44 from the qualifying rounds. It was questioned if Kirk may beat the world report held by the Australian star. Leisel Jones At 1:05.09.

By the point Kirk reached the midpoint of the race, Jones’ world commonplace was on life help. Kirk cornered in 30.29, good for an American report, and continued to climb the final two laps. When Kirk touched the wall, the scoreboard flashed 1:04.79, making the senior the primary girl to interrupt the 1:05 barrier. Kirk was so dominant that second place Sarah Poewe, a German from the College of Georgia, was greater than a second behind in 1:06.02.

Kirk’s world report lasted greater than two years till Jones countered on the 2006 Australian Quick Course Championships. Jones carried out 1:04.12 and 1:03.86 on consecutive days, falling as little as 1:03.00 within the 2009 season. These days, the world report 1:02.36 is collectively owned by Lithuania. Ruta Meilutyte and Jamaica Alia Atkinson.

Though his effort in 100 breaststrokes was the spotlight of his farewell to the NCAA, Kirk additionally trailed the sector in 200 breaststrokes, with that win – with an American report of two:20.70 – putting him nineteenth in a row on the occasion. Total, he left the varsity competitors with 11 varsity championships and was named NCAA Swimmer of the 12 months for the 2003-04 marketing campaign.


Finishing his faculty days, Kirk turned his consideration to the most important summer time of his profession. Second place in 100 breaststrokes at the US Olympic Trials in Lengthy Seashore, California, secured participation within the Athens Video games. When the Olympics returned to their birthplace, Kirk completed sixth within the 100 chests. She additionally gained a silver medal within the 400 medley relay due to her breaststroke leg within the occasion’s preliminaries. He shared his Olympic expertise together with his youthful sister Dana, who represented Group USA within the 200 butterflies.

“It meant loads to me,” Kirk stated of the world report. “I’m really grateful that I used to be in a position to end my college profession with such a excessive grade. However it was additionally an Olympic yr, so it wasn’t one thing there was a variety of alternative to dwell on. There have been larger challenges that got here only a few months later to work on.

After the Athens Video games, Kirk gained a bronze medal within the 100 breaststroke on the 2005 World Championships and a gold medal within the occasion on the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships. On the 2007 World Championships, Kirk took silver in 100 breaststrokes and bronze in 50 breaststrokes.

On the 2008 Olympic Trials, third place in 100 breaststrokes, Kirk hesitated to ask him to the Beijing Video games. After Trials winner Jessica Hardy failed the doping check, it was revealed that Kirk could possibly be chosen for the staff. As an alternative, the deadline for Kirk’s appointment as substitute had handed, and Kirk remained at house.


Now married and a mom, Kirk is a senior fellow on the Johns Hopkins Middle for Well being Safety and an affiliate professor within the US Division of Environmental Well being and Engineering. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It has performed a crucial position in reopening Okay-12 colleges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, together with offering enter and analyzing non-pharmaceutical interventions to manage the unfold of the coronavirus.

Kirk is a star athlete in Northern California and an everyday fixture on the US nationwide staff practically twenty years in the past, however he appears to be like again on his profession with love. His time at Stanford was significantly particular.

“I had my finest time at Stanford,” Kirk stated. “I look again and simply consider alternatives and open doorways and I am so grateful I went to Stanford.

“Whereas a variety of effort has been put into each my swimming and my research, it nonetheless looks like an idyllic time for me, crammed with thrilling challenges, an amazing help system, good buddies and really lovely climate. I see it as a launching pad for the life I’ve right now and I’m completely grateful for that.”

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