Salukis take third at championships

By Jack Robinson

SIU’s women’s swimming and diving team placed nine athletes on the All-conference team and finished third overall in the weekend’s Missouri Valley Conference championships.

Women’s swimming ended the competition with a score of 721 points. Junior Pam Benitez, junior Shailey Brumley, freshman Esther Chen, sophomore Holly Johnson, sophomore Hannah Pinion, junior Luisa Silveira, freshman Morgan Timms, freshman Helena Amorim and Sherry Zhang performed well enough to earn All-Conference honors. The team also included eight honorable mention All- Conference athletes in junior Rachael Barry, senior Anna Beeck, junior Isabela Castro, sophomore Charlotte Davies, senior Kirsten Groome, senior Melissa Larocque, freshman Katy Ovington, and junior Brittany Weigel.

Coach Rick Walker said he was happy with the team’s swimming during the competition, but he wanted it to place higher.


“Naturally we wanted to try and take Illinois State, but things had to fall our way,” he said. “Things didn’t work out how we had planned, but I am very proud of how our girls swam. It’s easy to stay on top, but it’s hard to move up a place.”

Timms said she was pleased with how well her team did, and her team’s support helped her in the meet.

“We were all expecting to go really fast and I am pretty happy with how well we all did. It’s a lot easier when you have your teammates standing behind you for finals,” she said. “When you look and see your whole team cheer for you, it’s really a huge inspiration.”

Junior Pam Benitez won the mile freestyle, which was her first conference title of the

weekend. She also played contributed to the 200-yard freestyle relay team, which won its event with a time of 1 minute 33.18 seconds and featured Brumley, Johnson, Benitez and Silveira. Benitez also placed second in the 500- yard freestyle at 4:59.33 in the finals.

Pinion said it motivates her during races when she knows another teammate is competing well.

“It’s really exciting to know a teammate is doing so well, it is kind of like a domino effect,”

she said. “Once one person does well the whole team seems to join in,” she said.

Walker said Benitez influences the team like a professional athlete.

“When I think of Pam, It’s like watching a pro basketball or pro football player,” he said. “You can see them, and they will perform at their very best every time they can. She does the right things and works very hard.”

The Salukis finished their 2013 season with two meet wins and, Walker said he couldn’t

be more proud of his team’s performance this year.

“They weren’t only one of the best teams in terms of athletics, but they also excelled in the classroom,” he said. “They are getting some much deserved rest and will be set to go for next year.”