Nov. 15, 2009
MINNEAPOLIS - The Washington State University 400 freestyle relay team of Michaela Ahlin, Talor Whitaker, Rugile Mileisyte and Emma Neely broke the meet record during the final event of the 2009 Minnesota Grand Prix Sunday. The team finished in 3:23.55, beating the previous record by almost two seconds. The time also met the NCAA Consideration time standard. The "B" team, consisting of Evelina Bieleckaite, Jennifer Dean, Jenna Bekker and Shawna Keller finished fourth.
"It was fun to end with the 400 freestyle relay, with the swimmers splitting faster than they were in their individual events. We talked about how important the relays are for our team success and they really stepped it up to get the meet record and race a really talented Minnesota team. They were 11th in the country last year and we have a lot of respect for them and their program," WSU Head Coach Erica Quam said.
Ahlin also won the 200 butterfly Sunday night by more than three seconds. The senior from Tyreso, Sweden finished at 1:58.04, meeting the NCAA Consideration time standard. The win was Ahlin's second of the meet, and completed the sweep of the butterfly events.
"She raced consistently well throughout the weekend. She had some really good prelim swims and that's something that she has had trouble with in the past. Mentally she approached the morning swims really tough and she was able to come back as fast as she was in the morning," said Quam.
Whitaker led the pack of Cougars who qualified for the finals sessions of the 100 freestyle Sunday night. The junior finished in fourth place (50.78), less than half a second behind winner Erika Erndl. Neely was close behind in sixth place (51.71), while Mileisyte finished in a tie for seventh.
Four of the eight competitors in the 100 free consolation final were WSU swimmers. Bieleckaite, Keller and Dean finished 11th, 12th and 13th, respectively. Bekker was the final Cougar to touch the wall, taking 16th place.
Freshman Shelbi Luchini was the lone WSU representative in the 100 backstroke final. She finished in ninth place (2:03.96), nearly three seconds faster than her qualifying time.
Sophomore Rachael Krager qualified for the final session of the 200 fly as well as the 1650 freestyle, finishing in 17th in both.
"I think we really elevated our game this weekend. It was just great to see the progress that the team made in a week. It was great to see them get faster across the board and in their night swims, and I think overall we gained a lot of confidence as a group," said Quam. "Some of our times are pretty comparable or faster than they were at the Texas Invite in December of last year, so it's good to be as fast or faster going into Short Course Nationals this December."
The Cougars will be back in action Dec. 3, when they head to the Short Course Nationals in Federal Way, Wash.