Jan. 15, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas - The Washington State University swim team had nine competitors compete in 12 individual swims during the finals session of the USA Swimming Austin Grand Prix, Saturday.
Though there were numerous individual swims, WSU's night was highlighted by the 800 freestyle relay team of Talor Whitaker, Emma Neely, Rugile Mileisyte and Jennifer Dean. The squad earned a first-place finish by touching the wall in 8:27.86, winning my more than three seconds.
"They raced really well, elevated their performances and just missed an NCAA time," said WSU head coach Erica Quam. "I think that will give us a lot of confidence and shows where we are coming off a tough training camp."
The Cougars have been forced to step up, or be left behind, as they face world renowned competition. The event plays host to Olympic-level swimmers such as Michael Phelps on the men's side, while WSU athletes go head-to-head with the likes of Kate Ziegler and Kathryn Hoff.
Mileisyte led the team with the highest individual finish of any Cougar swimmer at the meet, with her finish in the 50 freestyle. The Alytus, Lithuania native qualified for the finals with the seventh-fastest time of the 72 competitors in the event. During the evening session, Mileisyte competed in the "A" final where she took sixth place with a time of 26.65 seconds.
The Cougar co-captain also qualified for the finals of the 100 backstroke, Saturday, winning the "C" heat in a time of 1:03.62, and dropping more than two seconds from her morning time. The day-to-night improvement was a trend for the WSU swimmers. In the same event, Danielle Palumbo improved her time by more than a second while notching a long course lifetime best. Palumbo will look to continue her strong showing in the 200 backstroke tomorrow.
Mileisyte was the leader of a pack of six Cougars to compete in the finals of the 50 free. Whitaker finished 19th overall while Dean and Evelina Bieleckaite finished 26th and 27th, respectively. Neely won the "E" final (33rd) and was followed by Melissa Bogert who took 39th.
Whitaker was back in the pool for the final event of the night, the 200 breaststroke. The senior qualified for, and won the "D" final with a long course best time. Freshman Taylor Indahl won the "E" final by swimming seven seconds faster than her preliminary race.
"Across the board, everybody was faster than this morning. If we can come in tomorrow morning and get more people qualified for night swims, we can really continue with this momentum."
Sunday marks the final day of competition, with preliminary swims beginning at 9:30 a.m., followed by the finals session at 5:30 p.m., local time. Final-day action will be shown live via webcast on www.usaswimming.org. The meet will also be aired live on Universal Sports TV from 6:30-8:30 p.m. ET, and will be re-aired at 11 p.m.