University News

WIU Swimmer to Compete in 2000 Olympics

August 28, 2000


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MACOMB, IL - Western Illinois senior Zurab Beridze will represent the National Republic of Georgia in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, swimming in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events on September 16-23, 2000.

Beridze qualified for the 2000 Sydney Games, becoming the first swimmer to ever compete for the Republic of Georgia, by finishing among the top 25 swimmers at last year's European Championships. In the 2000 European Championships, held in Finland in July, Beridze finished the 50m Free in 24.13 seconds, placing fifth in his heat. He placed eighth in his heat for the 100m Free, with a time of 53.52. At the Olympics, Beridze hopes to finish in the top 30.

As the only member of the Republic of Georgia swimming team, Beridze has received support from his home country, which has included providing him with flights to and from his training facility in Europe. This summer, Beridze trained six days per week in Georgia for six hours each day, including four and one-half hours in the water and one and one-half running and lifting weights.

The Republic of Georgia has a population of just over 5.1 million. Prior to the 1996 games, Georgian athletes competed under the Soviet Union flag. At the 1996 Atlanta games they competed as an independent nation for the first time, where they won a bronze in judo and freestyle wrestling.

As a Leatherneck, Beridze holds the second-fastest 50m Free time in WIU history, 20.89, and ranks seventh in the WIU record book with a time of 46:11 in the 100m Free. According to Beridze, he's "dropped about one second off of my 50m Free time in my four years at WIU."

"Coach Champer has helped me a lot," Beridze stated. "He's pushed me, encouraged me and trained me, and he has made me the swimmer I am now."

Beridze has completed his NCAA eligibility, but will return to WIU after the Olympics to finish the final two semesters of his bachelor's degree. He is the first WIU swimmer to compete in the Olympics.

Each race in Sydney has a maximum of eight swimmers. The fastest swimmers advance from the preliminary heats to the semifinals and finals.

by WIU Sports Information

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations