Heather Farr, now on the LPGA tour, began the streak with titles in 1979, '80 and '81. She was succeeded by her younger sister, Missy, who won the '82 crown. The Draeger sisters, Colleen and Laura, won the title in '83 and '84, respectively, followed by the Gilbert sisters, Paige and Heidi, in '85 and '86, and the Carriell sisters, Lisa and Tricia, in '87 and '88. The champ this fall was Page Oeser, who, alas, is the youngest girl in her family.
Xavier, which has also won a U.S.-record 10 straight state team titles, is coached by a nun, Sister Lynn Winsor.
FIGHTING TO STAY AFLOAT
Phoenix investor Charles Keating Jr. has been in the news ever since the $2 billion collapse of his Lincoln Savings and Loan Association earlier this year. He has been hit with a $1.1 billion fraud-and-racketeering suit by federal banking regulators and linked to a possible influence-buying scandal involving five U.S. senators.
Almost unnoticed in the tumult is the fact that Keating's financial difficulties have jeopardized one of the nation's most promising swim programs. When federal regulators took over all subsidiaries of Lincoln's parent company, American Continental Corp., last April, they also assumed control of the $1 million American Continental-built Phoenician Swim Club complex in Phoenix, which was just opening. The U.S. swimming community had eagerly awaited the completion of the complex, which was expected to cultivate Olympians through top-notch coaching and state-of-the-art facilities.
The complex was Keating's pet project. A lifelong swimmer, he won the NCAA 200-yard butterfly title in 1946 while competing for the University of Cincinnati, and he later founded the highly successful Cincinnati Marlins club. One of his sons, Charles III, placed fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 1976 Olympics; one of his daughters, Mary Adele, a former national-level swimmer, is married to former swimmer Gary Hall, a three-time Olympian.
Led by Hall, who's club chairman, and head coach Pierre Lafontaine, the Phoenician club pressed forward even after the feds stepped in. In May, when the club received an eviction notice, coaches, swimmers and parents picketed and persuaded the government to revoke its eviction threat. The picture began looking brighter. The Phoenician Resort, a separate Keating-owned property in Phoenix, was making large donations to keep the club going. Swim team membership grew to more than 100, including Olympic gold medalists Troy Dalbey and Carrie Steinseifer.
In November, however, the feds seized the Phoenician Resort. They may cut off funds and leave the club without any income. Lafontaine says there's enough money saved up to cover expenses "for maybe two months. After that, unless we find a sponsor or some other source of income, we'll be out in the street."
Potential sponsors are wary because of the swim center's uncertain future—the federal regulators plan to sell it—and the stigma attached to anything connected with Keating. Nevertheless, club membership continues to grow. "We'll get through this somehow," vows Hall. "We're a feisty group."
The coach of the University of Toledo's women's basketball team, Bill Fennelly, knows that Fran Voll, his counterpart at Bowling Green, is his nemesis. "I finished runner-up to you in the regular season last year," Fennelly told Voll the other day. "I finished runner-up to you in the conference tournament. And I finished runner-up to you in the coach of the year voting. So I'd appreciate it if you'd stay away from my wife."