Feb. 26, 2011
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - The Washington State University swimming team ended the 2011 Pac-10 Championships on a high note, Saturday, as the 400 freestyle relay team set a school record during the last event of the meet.
The race may be the final event for WSU seniors Rugile Mileisyte, Talor Whitaker and Jennifer Dean, who combined with junior Emma Neely to take the record down. The quartet edged out the previous record by three tenths of a second, touching the wall in 3:20.96.
"It is a great group of seniors and each has their own individual story," said head coach Erica Quam. "It was a nice way to end for all the relays and it signified the total team effort they had, not just at the Pac-10's, but all season long."
Mileisyte and Whitaker had both competed in the finals session for the 100 freestyle. Mileisyte finished 14th overall in a time of 49.96 seconds. The Alytus, Lithuania native narrowly missed her own school record in the event but she did break the NCAA "B" time. Whitaker was less than a second behind her classmate's time and finished 22nd overall.
Shelbi Luchini was the lone Cougar to qualify for the finals in the 200 butterfly. The sophomore swam a lifetime-best and the sixth-fastest time in WSU history during the preliminaries session while qualifying for an evening swim. In the finals, Luchini swam another lifetime-best and jumped to fourth on the school's top-10 list. Her time of 2:03.85 was almost a second faster than her morning swim, and was good enough for 24th place overall in the event.
"Shelbi decided she wanted to go for the 200 butterfly this year," Quam said. "She keeps coming around in that event and I think it will continue to be a great one for her and it will help her in the 400 IM. She is showing her versatility and beginning to tap into her strengths."
In the 200 breaststroke, two first-year Cougar swimmers came up just short of qualifying for the finals session, but were able to make their mark on the WSU record book. Junior-transfer Marina Ruiz Jimenez and freshman Taylor Indahl finished 25th and 26th, respectively, while their times were the seventh- and eighth-fastest times ever recorded by Cougar swimmers.
Sophomore Danielle Palumbo climbed her way up another Cougar top-10 list during final-day action with her performance in the 200 backstroke. The Sammamish, Wash., product moved to third on the all-time list with a lifetime-best 2:01.21.
"It was such an outstanding year and a great group of women to coach," Quam said. "They worked hard, they believed and they trusted. In that environment you can accomplish anything you want."