Bjargardottir leading UCI swim team

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

(1:02.40).

"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

had."

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

games.

* 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

Qualifier.

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