March 19, 1999
ATHENS, Ga. - Junior Erin Eldridge captured 13th in the 100 breaststroke at the NCAA women's swimming and diving championships Friday, thus becoming the first Cougar women to earn All-American honors in swimming.
Eldridge finished fifth in the consolation championships Friday evening in one minute, two and 50 one-hundredths of a second. In the morning preliminary heats at the Gabrielsen Natatorium on the Georgia campus, she finished 15th in 1:02.74, with the top eight advancing to the championship finals and the next eight to the consolation finals.
"It was pretty exciting to finally go to this meet and make the finals instead of just sitting around watching everyone from the stands," offered the Cougar junior from Kirland. Last year Eldridge, who prepped at Juanita High, made it to the NCAA meet, did not advance out of the preliminaries.
"Erin secured All-American status by making the consolation finals," said her Cougar coach, Rocco Aceto. "Her goal tonight was to win the consolations and finished ninth, but she came up just a little short." Arizona freshman Emily Mastin won the consolation title in 1:02.34, just :0.16 quicker than Eldridge.
"It has been a two-year journey to see that All-American status," the second-year Cougar coach said. "It is very important to the base of what we are trying to do at Washington State," he said of Eldridge's performance.
The 100 breaststroke was very nearly a repeat of the Pacific-10 Conference championships, with seven of the top 16 swimmers hailing from Pac-10 schools.
"Erin got caught in a very experienced heat (prelims) with the American record holder, but she swam a great race," Aceto said after the prelims. The record holder he referred to was Kristy Kowal from Georgia, who went on to capture the title in a pool record :59.25.
Eldridge Saturday will try to pick up her second All-American honor when she competes in the 200 meter breaststroke. Preliminary competition will begin at 8:00 a.m. PST, with the finals set for 4:00 p.m. PST. She will enter the 200 meter event seeded ninth at 2:13.54, one place better than her pre-meet seeding in the 100 meters.