By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Despite eight months out of the pool because of Covid-19, a transfer from Rutgers to Florida International University and having just two months swimming under her belt, Elinah Phillip grabbed a 50y free silver medal in the Conference USA Swimming Championships in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday.
Phillip, who won the same event at the 2020 Big 10 Championships for Rutgers while breaking the 14-year old school record, had a time of 23.01 seconds after a 23.10 in the prelims. She also helped the 4×200 Free Relay to gold in 1:30.56 and was 9th in the 100m free in 50.89.
Phillip’s contributions helped the Panthers to their 7th successive C-USA Swimming title—extending the longest streak of successive post season championships in C-USA history, with 956.5 points.
Phillip told Island Sun Sports that the transfer from Rutgers to FIU wasn’t difficult as the coaches and athletics department managed it very well and she was able to get some competitions in before the conference championships.
“I really enjoyed conference and I think swimming fast made it a lot easier,” Phillip said of her 23.01 seconds time. “The 50 is my favorite race so I really enjoyed that as well. It was also good to swim on a couple of the relays with the girls and that meant a lot because I’m new to the team, so it was a good week overall, I’m satisfied because I know I have just eight weeks of training with my new coaches. To be that close to my best time, I’m happy with it, because I wasn’t that far off in any of my races.”
Phillip added: “It really means a lot because transferring wasn’t an easy decision. Coming to FIU, the environment with the team and the coaches is one that I’m happy that I took because it has really paid off. Since being at FIU, I’ve realized the importance of a happy environment. I was out of the water for eight months before coming to FIU and on just eight weeks of training I managed to do something that was really special and surprised me, considering how long I was out of the water, so it meant a lot.”
She said it’s “difficult to describe” the feeling of contributing to the Panthers’ seventh successive conference crown.
“It is a very special feeling,” Phillip said. “I feel very honored to be part of this team and I definitely wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s really amazing to be here and I think it’s something you have to experience to be able to understand it. It’s very difficult to put into words, but, yeah, I loved it.”