Elgamal competes at Nationals, named honorable mention All-American

By Jordan Holliday

After a record-breaking rookie campaign, first-year swimmer Ellie Elgamal added one more item to her already-impressive list of accomplishments.

Competing at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships March 13 through March 15, Elgamal was named an honorable mention All-American for her strong showing in the 100-yard butterfly. Her time of 58.10 seconds qualified her for the finals of the event, where a 58.87 put her 15th in the field of 32. Fourth-year Ava Kiss from The College of New Jersey took first and set an NCAA record with a time of 55.08 in the finals.

Elgamal had won the 100-yard butterfly at a number of meets this season but had never faced such stiff competition. The NCAA looks at each swimmer’s top times and invites only the best of the best to the meet.

“The swimmers there are all really, really fast,” head coach Jason Weber said.

Besides earning her All-American honors, Elgamal’s performance bodes well for the future. She has the fourth-best time of any first-year, and Weber said he hopes she will finish in the top eight overall in 2009.

“We’ll make the appropriate changes and adjustments, and next year she will go even faster,” he said.

Based on the strength of her regular season times, Elgamal was also invited to participate in the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley at nationals. She finished 24th in the 200 fly and 35th in the 200 IM, but her times were not good enough to qualify her for the finals in either of those events.

“We were hoping she would score in both of the butterfly events,” Weber said. “She did in the 100, but unfortunately in 200 she was a little bit off.”

Despite the setback, Weber said he thought Elgamal could finish in the top eight in the 200 fly next year, as well.

In only her first season with the team, Elgamal set Chicago records in the 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard butterfly, and 200-yard individual medley. She also helped set a school record in the 400-yard medley relay and became the first female swimmer in a decade to make it to the NCAA championships.

Elgamal is an exceptionally talented swimmer, but her assets go beyond pure athleticism.

“She has the perfect attitude for the sport of swimming,” Weber said. “It’s so unforgiving. You train all these hours everyday for months and it all comes down to one race, and the difference between making the finals can come down to a hundredth of a second, and she can deal with all that very easily.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that she’ll be back next year and do even better.”