Daily Egyptian

Salukis share space with public

By Melanie Early, @MelanieEarly

The Saluki swimming and diving teams share the Recreation Center locker rooms with the public.

The teams said they often deal with theft and vandalism because the public has access to the team locker rooms.

“[Private locker rooms] would be nice,” coach Rick Walker said. “Simply because of the amount of time that they’re here, and the amount of time that their personal belongings are exposed to other people.”

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Walker said people have used coat hangers to pull out items from the team’s lockers, including bathing suits that cost hundreds of dollars.

Junior swimmer Katy Ovington said team members have had their clothes stolen during practice and had to go home in their wet suits.

“It quite often happens in the morning,” Ovington said. “You would normally think that it wouldn’t happen then since there aren’t as many people coming in, but it does.”

Despite the unfortunate situation, Ovington said they are still grateful for the facilities provided.

The Salukis have an Olympic-sized pool that they spend more time in than the locker room.

Walker said having private locker rooms could help with the recruiting process, but he would rather his recruits not be too concerned about it.

“If a locker room is going to be your reason to come here, you are looking at the wrong place and we don’t need you,” Walker said.

Freshman swimmer Nolan Hillard said locker rooms had no influence on his decision to join the team. Having a locker to put his belongings in is enough for him.

“Whether we have a private locker room or not, it does not change whether they’re going to try harder,” Walker said.

Private locker rooms are not a luxury for every team.

Missouri State’s swimming coach Dave Collins said his team has the same issue as SIU.

“At our level, there are a number of other groups that use our facility and share space within our aquatics complex,” Collins said. “Including the locker rooms.”

SIU unveiled Saluki Way in 2005; an $83 million project to create and renovate Saluki athletic facilities. Walker said he does not think locker rooms for the swim team was ever a part of that plan, but former Athletic Director Mario Moccia discussed the possibilities with him.

Since then, the idea has not been brought to anyone’s attention, but Walker said the teams will continue to do what they do best.

“Tomorrow they’ll wake up and come in here the same way they always have to work their butts off and try to win,” Walker said.

Melanie Early can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269

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