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CAMPUS REPORT | UC IRVINE

Klatt's Gene Pool Favors Swimming, Water Polo

January 19, 1999|CHRIS FOSTER

Dan Klatt, UC Irvine junior, worked hard to become a standout swimmer and water polo player. But some qualities he inherited.

Rick Klatt, his father, was a water polo player at New Mexico. But as a swimmer, he was among the best in the world. He was part of an 800 freestyle relay team that set a world record at the 1973 World Championships in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

"It was a weird deal because of all the stuff swirling around the games, like about the girls," said Rick Klatt, now 47. "It was the first World Championship so it was the first time anyone had seen the East German women. . . . They emerged, so to speak. That was a long time ago."

Such stuff is contained in the Klatt family album. Dan is now creating his own Kodak moments.

Logic dictates he should pack it in as a swimmer. His already hectic athletic career could use a little down time.

Klatt has blossomed as a water polo player to the point where he must juggle playing for Irvine--where he was a third-team All-American last fall--and the U.S. national team.

Yet, there are some valid reasons he should continue to swim.

"I like to race and I like to win, for starters," Klatt said. "I have a background in swimming."

And a father who had a world record and now runs the Fresno Dolphin swim club.

"It's a hard thing for a kid whose dad coaches pretty serious swimming," Rick Klatt said.

Not so hard.

Dan Klatt began swimming when he was 3 and started his competitive career at 6.

"He did pretty well on his stomach, but it didn't take too long to figure out he could swim on his back well," Rick Klatt said. "That's a rare commodity, so you try to encourage that."

Klatt is among the best sprinters and backstroke specialists in the Big West Conference, despite the fact his training is limited by water polo practice. He was second in the 100-meter freestyle and third in the 200 at the conference meet last year.

"He likes to win," Irvine swim Coach Charlie Schober said. "That helps a lot. The only things I really need to work with him on are his dives and turns. You don't dive off the block in water polo too often."

Klatt will be the first to admit water polo is his passion, and it didn't take him long to make an impact on the national level. He scored five goals in the U.S. B team's 14-9 victory over Puerto Rico last June.

But swimming is still high among Klatt's priorities. The training is especially difficult this time of year because the national team practices two nights a week. But there are benefits to his extra hours in the pool.

"All that swimming pays off," Rick Klatt said. "You can see it in the fourth quarter [of water polo games].

"But swimming is a little bit of a different sport. You're up there all by your lonely. It gets in your blood."

So which Klatt is better?

"Dan is very good in the short stuff," Rick Klatt said. "I could never beat him in the 50 or 100. But in the longer races, I can grind him down."

SOCCER COACH DEFENDED

Freshman goalkeeper C.J. Cooper, one of seven men's soccer players who was contemplating leaving the university, has decided to stay at Irvine. Appeals for scholarship releases for the other players are expected to begin within two weeks.

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said only three of the six players leaving receive scholarship money.

Some of the players leaving expressed unhappiness with soccer Coach George Kuntz, but Guerrero defended him.

"This is a time to convey my support for George Kuntz," Guerrero said. "The program has improved over the last four years. The fact that the team lost nine games by one goal might appear to reflect a team that can't quite get over the hump. But we compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation against top-ranked teams that have long-standing traditions and bigger budgets at this point.

"The fact our players believed they can compete with anyone reflects a program that has come a long way and is one step away. We will move on, just as those student athletes who chose to pursue their careers elsewhere chose to move on."

Of the scholarship players leaving, Tyler Theslof may enroll at UCLA, where his brother played.

DRIVE, HE SAID

Irvine point guard Malachi Edmond can handle driving to the basket. Driving a car, well . . .

The team caravan rolled into a gas station in Boise Friday. Trainer Glen Rogers, driving one car, got out to pump gas. When he saw the car was too far from the pump, he hollered to Edmond to move it forward.

Edmond struggled for a couple minutes before teammates pointed out that he needed to start the engine first.

ROYAL PERFORMANCE

Guard Princess Hatcher had only six points in victories over Boise State and Idaho last week. But the Anteaters could not have swept without her.

Hatcher was the backup point guard before being moved into the starting lineup at off-guard. She is the team's best defensive player on the perimeter.

She had four rebounds and three assists against Boise State and seven rebounds and four assists against Idaho.

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