Ailment forces Illini swimmer Didde to retire

Ailment forces Illini swimmer Didde to retire

University of Illinois swimmer Erin Didde has decided to retire from the sport after continuing to experience pain from a back ailment.

The Illini senior, who holds every school backstroke record, told UI coach Jim Lutz of her decision Monday.

"It's so sad," Lutz said Monday night. "She's the epitome of what the work ethic in the Midwest is all about. Here's a kid who goes to her job and give 110 percent effort all the time. That's what she gave us for three years."

Didde, who qualified for the 1997 NCAA Championships in two events, began to experience pain in her back, shoulder and elbow last season. Doctors later determined the Decatur native had congenital disc problems in her upper back.

Didde was examined earlier this fall by medical experts in Chicago, who indicated she might be able to return to competition during the second semester. However, the pain that followed a workout last week convinced Didde to call it a career.

"She had done light, sporadic stuff (before)," Lutz said, "and she was trying to step it up a little bit, and it just didn't happen. She never went over 70 percent on any of it, and she couldn't move her arm for (the next) three days.

"We don't know how much permanent damage – if there would be permanent damage – would be caused by continuing. It's a question."

Didde holds UI records in the 50-yard backstroke (26.76 seconds), 100 backstroke (56.44) and 200 backstroke (2:00.0). The Stephen Decatur High School graduate also swam the backstroke legs on Illinois' record-setting 200 medley and 400 medley relays.

In volleyball:

Illini up to No. 17.

The Illini volleyball team continued its steady climb in the national rankings Monday, movingup one spot to 17th in the latest USA Today/ESPN Top 25.

Since the third poll of the season was released on Sept. 21, the Illini (15-5) have moved from 23rd to 20th to 19th to 18th and now to 17th. Their latest step followed victories last week over Purdue and then-No. 24 Minnesota.

The Illini are among five Big Ten schools in the Top 25. They're joined by No. 2 Penn State, No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 18 Michigan State and No. 25 Minnesota.

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