SIU swimmers and divers fall to Western Kentucky

By Caleb Motsinger

SIU swimming and diving teams hope to improve after sinking to Western Kentucky Saturday at the Dr. Edward J. Shea Natatorium

The SIU men and women’s swimming and diving teams fell to Western Kentucky Saturday at home, with a 176-124 margin for the men and a 181-116 margin for the women.

“(We were) coming off a prior week where we were fighting off illness and fatigue,” head coach Rick Walker said. “I don’t think today’s performance had anything to do with preparation or their effort.”


Western Kentucky halted the women’s winning streak and kept them from a fourth consecutive victory.

“I had a tough week in practice,” said junior distance swimmer Kirsten Groome. “We hate to lose a meet, but it’s all about improvement toward the conference championships at this point.”

In the early stages of the meet, Groome (10:13.75) placed first and senior swimmer Jennifer Kwok (10:18.78) placed second in the 1000-yard freestyle to put the salukis ahead in the early stages of the meet.

Sophomore swimmer Csaba Gercsak also came up with a win in the 1000-yard freestyle for the men. Gercsak said the tough week and training definitely took its toll on him, but overall he was happy with he and his teammate’s performances.

Freshman swimmer Pamela Benitez won the 100 (52.55), 200 (1:52.13)  and 500-freestyle (4:56.61), her sixth, seventh and eighth victories of the 2012 season. Senior swimmer Matt Parsons followed up with a win in the 200-yard freestyle to help SIU earn its fourth victory in the first six events.

With sophomore Isabela Castro’s first-place finish in 200-yard butterfly (2:04.55); senior swimmer Justin Wolfe’s victory in the 50-yard freestyle (20.57); and senior swimmer El Badrawi’s first-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle (46.06), the Salukis put up several good numbers but were unable to bring home the victory.

Sophomore swimmer Brittany Weigel, 2011 MVC co-diver of the year, blew the competition out of the water on the one-meter dive with a score of 281.81. Senior Justin Ruszkowski (299.63), freshman Kegan Skelton (297.75) and senior Nathan Day (297.45) finished within three points of each other, more than 30 points ahead of the competition.

Both Weigel (237.60) and Day (329.48) emerged victorious on the men and women’s side of the three-meter dive.

At the end of the day, the individual placements from the 32 races throughout the meet were not enough to put the Saluki’s ahead of Western Kentucky in the point margins.

“I would need to win if were a basketball coach and I had to have a certain win-loss column,” Walker said. “It’s all about personal improvement for the tournament and I couldn’t be happier with everyone’s effort.”

The Saluki’s travel to Muncie, Ind., Friday to take on Ball State, then back home Saturday to host Evansville at the Edward J. Shea Natatorium for the final home meet before the MVC conference championships.