Well-rested Salukis set to compete in conference meet

Well-rested Salukis set to compete in conference meet

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

By the time the average student’s water for coffee has heated up, the average Saluki swimmer has been in a cold pool for hours. 

Saluki swimmers usually begin their day at 5 a.m., but before important meets, SIU swimming coach Rick Walker decreases the amount of pool time for his athletes. Three to four days a week swimmers are practicing at 6 a.m. during the season, but the week of the Missouri Valley Conference championships, morning practices are not mandatory.

However, sophomore Bryn Handley will be in the pool at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Since the competition doesn’t start until that evening, Handley said it is important to get in the pool early and warm up.


It has been 11 days since the team competed against Evansville in Carbondale, winning 191-46.

Walker said the extra time off and tapered workouts mean the SIU swimmers will be well rested and ready to compete during the four-day competition.

The women’s swim team went undefeated in MVC competition this season. The MVC pre-championship coaches poll, released Tuesday, picked SIU to finish second — four votes behind Missouri State. SIU finished in second place last year. 

In the dual meet between SIU and MSU in October, the Dawgs won 125-116. 

“It came down to the last [400-yard] relay, and we ended up doing really well in that event,” Handley said. “It was back and forth the whole time.”

The meet came down to a six-second victory by the 400-yard freestyle relay team of Handley, sophomore Kelsie Walker, junior Lauren Stockton and senior Helena Amorim.

SIU finished with the top three times in the 1,650-yard freestyle event last season. Walker, Handley and Amorim finished in that order and contributed 53 of the Salukis 720 total points in that event alone.

“If we go and do our job this week, we will have a chance to take the top spots,” Walker said. “You have to respect the other teams because nothing is final until you touch the wall.”

In her senior season, diver Sherry Zhang looks to finish her career on top of the 1-meter and 3-meter dives, which she has done the last two seasons.

But Zhang said she hopes her teammate, sophomore Rachel Williams, continues to improve and earn a spot on the podium with Zhang. During the four months between two separate meets against Evansville, Williams added 10 points to her 1-meter dive.

The event takes place from Wednesday through Saturday in the Edward J. Shea Natatorium in the Recreation Center.

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3304