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Swift Creek

Royal High Sophomore Has Strong Showing at Olympic Trials


SIMI VALLEY — Christine Creek's specialty is the breaststroke, an event in which timing of arm pushes and leg kicks is crucial to success.

Creek's timing lately has been impeccable.

She qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials last week in her last opportunity, placing second in the 200-meter breaststroke with a time of 2:37.91 at the Speedo Junior Championships West meet in San Antonio, Texas, earlier this month.

"I was training for San Antonio," Creek said. "That was my last shot. I raced my hardest, and it was good enough to make the cut."

The time was Creek's best ever and would have qualified her for U.S. Summer Senior National Championships had there been such a meet this year.

In place of that competition, though, was the trials, where Creek competed against a field priming for the Olympic Games next month in Sydney, Australia.

"It was the most exciting meet I've ever been to," Creek said. "It was the best thing. The atmosphere was incredible. There were a lot of people there, the deck was crowded and everyone's a fan out there."

Creek, a 15-year-old sophomore at Royal High, managed to put anticipation, nerves and distractions behind her to make a strong showing.

"Once you dive in the pool, it all goes away," Creek said.

She did not qualify for the semifinals, which included the top 16 swimmers from preliminaries.

But Creek posted a time of 2:38.51, just more than a half-second slower than her junior nationals time and good enough to place fourth in her heat. She qualified 60th and tied for 35th place in a field of 106.

"That shows you how many people crumbled there," said Paul Davidson, Creek's coach with the Conejo Simi Aquatics club team.

"The trials this time around was a learning experience, and she did great."

After a fast first 150 meters, Creek tired on the last lap and just missed a spot in the preliminaries, which took the top 33 finishers.

"She took a little bit of a risk," Davidson said. "It was a calculated risk, and she came up a little short in the end. But she met the challenge with flying colors."

Creek's success didn't surprise Kathie Duncan, who trained the Simi Valley resident the past three years while coaching with the Combined Competitive Aquatics Team.

"She has a great breaststroke, a long stroke and good tempo," Duncan said.

"She's come so far in the past year, the last year-and-a-half."

Creek's showings in junior nationals and the Olympic trials were a far cry from a disappointing summer of 1999.

Top-seeded in the 200 breaststroke going into the Junior Championships West meet, Creek missed the competition because of a groin injury that sidelined her for three weeks.

She recovered nicely during a sterling season of high school competition.

Creek won titles in the Royal Invitational and Marmonte League championships in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley.

She followed those victories with a strong performance in the Southern Section Division I Championships in May, finishing third in the breaststroke in 1:06.36 and eighth in the 200 individual medley in 2:10.66.

"We trained differently this year because of her first high school season, and it worked," Duncan said. "She did a lot of sprint-type work and really focused on the shorter distances."

With the achievement of a senior-national qualifying time, Creek's focus will be on improving in the 100-meter breaststroke and, eventually, returning to the Olympic trials for the 200 and 100 breaststrokes.

"I'm really dedicated to swimming," Creek said. "I've always thought about the Olympics. I'm just kind of more hopeful now. My time will come."

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