February 23, 1999
PULLMAN, Wash. - The Pac-10 Championships has proved to be an uphill battle for the Washington State women's swim team since the conference held its first formal championship meet during the 1986-87 season.
The Cougars have not finished higher than eighth out of the nine participating swimming schools in the Pac-10. With this history, the program looks for a change at this year's conference meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. Feb. 25-27.
"The team's goal is to try to climb out of the basement with everyone striving to go beyond their personal best times and placing in the top 24," WSU coach Rocco Aceto said. "Plus, we have two kids who could possibly make NCAAs and are right on track to do so."
It took WSU 21 years to qualify its first NCAA Championship participant last season with junior Erin Eldridge (Kirkland, Wash.) in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke events. In Aceto's second year as head coach, the Cougars are optimistic that the 1998-99 season will increase that total number to three with Eldridge and senior freestyle specialist Katie Keller (Seattle, Wash.) making the trip to Athens, Georgia March 18-20. The 200-medley relay team that shattered the school record at Oregon State Feb. 5 has a potential shot at the postseason as well, Aceto added.
Right now, the team is working on refining the details to ensure they are in top meet performance shape. Working on technique and not overexerting the swimmers in the pool is something Aceto is keeping in mind before Pac-10s.
The Cougars finished the regular season at 6-6 (.500) after going through one of its toughest schedules ever. The Pac-10 Conference dominates the list of the top 25 schools in the nation in the sport. UCLA, Arizona, California, Southern Cal, and perennial NCAA Champion Stanford are just some of the opponents WSU will be up against in the water for the three-day competition.
"This is a big-time event," Aceto said. "It's the last meet and - last chance."
Swimming Notes ... Cougar Erin Eldridge is currently ranked No. 23 in the nation in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:03.53 and No. 25 in the 200 breaststroke with a 2:16.94. Both regular season times surpassed the NCAA consideration time standard in each event... WSU coach Rocco Aceto will be on the Tuesday press conference call at 1:30 p.m.