Freshman following the blueprint

By Gus Bode

Throughout the season, the SIU women’s swimming and diving team has obtained top performances from stars like junior Julie Ju, but freshmen have also held their end of the bargain.

During the Jan. 13 dual meet against University of Northern Iowa and the University of Evansville, freshman Lisa Jaquez led the Salukis (6-3) to a pair of wins, taking first place in the 500 meter freestyle with a time of 5:17.08 and the 1650 freestyle with a time of 18:06.01.

Jaquez competed in sprint races in high school, so her success in distances races wasn’t anticipated.

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“I wasn’t expecting to swim in these events at all when I came here,” Jaquez said. “But they needed a distance swimmer so I stepped up.”

Her ability to step up and give her all for the greater good of the team has teammates and coaches raving about her.

Head coach Rick Walker said Jaquez will do whatever it takes to improve even if she doesn’t enjoy hearing what she’s doing wrong.

“Some athletes won’t let go of their habits but she does a good job of continuing to improve,” Walker said. “Lisa is very team oriented but at the same time she doesn’t want to step on anyone’s feet.”

With less than a month left to prepare for the Missouri Valley Conference championships Feb. 8, Jaquez and her teammates will be trying to tone down their intense workout regimen, which could raise a problem for Jaquez.

Teammate Sam Dvorak said Jaquez’ training is perfect all the way down to her dieting.

“She eats healthy all the time, even when we go on break,” Dvorak said. “That helps her stay in top shape throughout the season and I expect her to finish in the top three at the MVC championships.”

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Before the Salukis take part in the championships, they still have a critical home meet with Missouri State University on Jan. 20. The meet features the top teams in the MVC in terms of conference titles.

The meet will mark the end of the regular season for the Salukis as they head into the finals with high expectations to knock off potential favorite Illinois State University.

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