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Bjargardottir leading UCI swim team

December 20, 2002

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

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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

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