Daily Egyptian

Scheduling prevents seven Salukis from competing

By Aaron Graff

It is easy to forget student athletes are students.

Eight Saluki swimmers qualified for the USA National Swimming Championships, held in Greensboro, N.C. this weekend, but seven opted out to study for finals week.

“If they chose to go and their grades suffered because of it, I would have been disappointed,” coach Rick Walker said. “I’m more pleased their priority is their academics.”

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Sophomore Sarah James was the lone Saluki at the meet. She finished 70th in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 56.47 seconds. She qualified with her school-record-setting time of 55.70 at the Louisville Invite Nov. 22.

“It’s definitely is different because ever since I’ve been in college swimming, it’s a big team atmosphere,” James said. “I definitely missed it, I wish more of the team could have gone.”

James said she allowed herself to compete by talking to all of her teachers beforehand, because her time was close to qualifying. She did however, have to spend most of her free time this weekend studying.

“Obviously not on deck, but whenever we would go back to the hotel I started doing study guides and studying for my finals next week,” James said.

Senior Calvin Kolar, juniors Till Pallmann and Morgan Timms, sophomores Andre Brihante and Dusan Vukobrat, freshmen Kelsie Walker and Michael Wolfe were the other Salukis to qualify.

Vukobrat said he is experiencing a minor back injury, and that was another reason he opted out of the competition. He said it was not worth it because he wants to be healthy for the Mid-American Conference Championships March 4-6.

“It was kind of a mutual agreement,” he said. “I said I didn’t know if it was smart. [Walker] said, ‘I agree’.”

Walker said he thinks all eight swimmers who qualified would have gone to the meet if it were a week earlier. He said he ran into other swimming coaches who did not send anyone because of the scheduling. He said because it was USA Swimming and not the NCAA championships, many college graduates and high school swimmers competed in the meet.

The Salukis will get two weeks of break, and will train the rest. Their spring season begins against the University of Arkansas Little Rock and Washington University in St. Louis 10 a.m., Jan. 17 at Edward J. Shea Natatorium.

Aaron Graff can be contacted at [email protected], on Twitter @Aarongraff_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269

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