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TRIATHLON

Swail Proves Something Else

July 15, 2002|DAN ARRITT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Julie Swail won the women's overall title for the second consecutive year Sunday at the Pacific Coast Triathlon at Crystal Cove State Park, only this time she felt like a triathlete.

Swail, captain of the U.S. women's water polo team at the 2000 Olympics and coach of the UC Irvine women's team, decided two weeks ago it was time to get serious about triathlon and move her distinguished water polo career onto the backburner.

"Water polo is just a hobby," said Swail, an Irvine resident. "Triathlon is my priority now."

Swail completed the 800-meter swim, 12-mile bike and three-mile run in 1 hour 4 minutes 58.9 seconds, nearly two minutes faster than last year, when she earned her first triathlon victory in only her third competition. Swail said her latest victory is a barometer she will use to gauge her progress.

"This is the first race I've done two consecutive years," she said. "I finally have a marker."

Swail, 29, demonstrated her strength in the water, finishing the swim fifth overall despite a slight detour at the beginning. Swail started in the first wave and said there was some confusion as to which direction to take around the first buoy. Swail and several other leaders were redirected at the last moment and sent back into the trailing group of swimmers on the opposite side of the buoy.

Men's winner Craig Alexander of Australia left the water in third place behind fellow Australians Marc Lees and Matt Clark, the defending champion. Alexander, 29, remained in third through the bike portion and into the run, where he moved into the lead after a half mile.

Alexander finished in 57:29.5, Lees was second in 58:27.1 and Clark third in 59.07.3, a little more than a minute faster than his winning time last year.

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