Sla Met. In Icelandic that means, "break records." And, that's
what Lara Bjargardottir has done thus far for the UC Irvine women's
swimming and diving team.
Sla met, it's pronounced slaw may-et, but don't ask me how to
pronounce Bjargardottir. It's that pronunciation that makes Lara
giggle when people try to say it. However, when Lara gets in the
water, the laughing ceases and she displays why she has become one of
the best swimmers ever at UCI.
Lara, a 21-year-old freshman who grew up in Reykjavic, Iceland,
was named Big West Conference Co-Athlete of the Week after her
performance at the UC Irvine/Speedo Cup Invitational Dec. 5-7. She
broke her own school record in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of
1:52.47. In the 500-yard free, she broke teammate sophomore Alexis
Sheridan's record, finishing in 4:59.89.
Lara also broke the 200 individual medley record previously held
by another teammate, senior Sara Showalter, and broke her own record
again in the finals in 2:05.15. Lara also twice broke the record in
the 400 IM record set by Laurel Hooper in 1995 and lowered the mark
to 4:25.59. Lara also holds the record in the rarely competed 100 IM
"I'm happy with my results thus far," she said. "I've never really
(competed) in yards before. I've been getting used to that. It's
going great and getting better and better."
Lara also said she has been very pleased with her decision to
attend college in America and compete.
"I miss my family and my friends over there," she said. "But I
don't miss the weather. I like it more and more here. I really like
the weather here. In Iceland, it gets well below the 30s."
For Lara Bjargardottir, Iceland will always be a part of her.
After all, she represented her country in the 2000 Olympics in
Australia. She was 19 years young when she was in the Olympics, where
she finished 27th in the 200 free and 36th in the 100 free.
"It was amazing," she said of her Olympic experience. "It was like
nothing else I ever experienced. It was the greatest time I ever
It's also been that experience that has helped in her quest to
qualify for the NCAA Championships. UCI Coach Brian Pajer says the
freshman swimmer is on course to qualifying and that she has been
having a great season, to say the least.
"She's a determined young lady," Pajer said. "She also fits in
really well on the team. Everybody likes her. She has something in
common with the rest of the swimmers because they all love to just
compete. They're happy to have her. She's obviously one of the best
swimmers ever at UCI."
After dual meets against Michigan State and Cal Baptist (Thursday
and today), the Anteaters will break for the holidays and then return
with UCI Invitational Jan. 4-5.
* Even though the UCI women's basketball team is earning some
early-season success, the Anteaters have suffered setbacks because of
injuries. The Anteaters have now lost two freshmen to season-ending
injuries. First there was Megan Aaker, who injured her knee before
the season started, then Kristin Thawley tore her ACL in her right
knee in the second half against San Diego State. She led the team
with a career-high 15 points against San Diego and was averaging 6.4
points and four rebounds per game after starting the first five
* Aside from the Anteaters' athletic program, Sean Calvillo, a
U.S. amateur figure skater and a second-year UCI student, is
preparing for the 2003 Winter World University Games to take place in
Tarvisio, Italy Jan. 16-26. The World University Games are geared
toward top collegiate athletes all across the globe.
Calvillo will enter the competition with high regard, mainly
because of his past accomplishments, which include, 2002 National
Collegiate Champion, 2003 United States Figure Skating Southwest
Pacific Regional Champion and 2003 USFSA Pacific Coast Sectional