Daily Egyptian

Salukis hope to finish with a splash

By Aaron Graff

The Saluki men’s swimmers and divers have their work cut out for them in their biggest tournament of the season.

SIU will compete in the Mid-American Conference Championships Thursday through Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y.

Coach Rick Walker said he isn’t considering it an advantage or disadvantage competing in New York.

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“In competition’s like this, you can’t sit there and pick out the things that aren’t in your favor,” he said. “You just can’t afford that.”

The Salukis only faced two conference opponents during the regular season: beating the University of Evansville twice and losing to Missouri State University once.

“This is arguably the best mid major conference in the country,” Walker said. “We are going up against some very stiff competition.”

Freshman Dusan Vukobrat said he doesn’t think the Salukis will win the title, but he said they have a good chance of finishing third place or higher.

“If we all do our best, we might place in the top three,” he said. “I don’t know if we can win it this year, probably not, but if we get in the top three that’ll be really good success for the team.”

Vukobrat will be swimming the 100-yard butterfly, the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races as an individual. He said his butterfly stroke feels good.

“I’m really determined,” Vukobrat said. “My expectations are high and I think it can be good, but it just depends if everything falls into place on the day of the meet.”

SIU will only have one diver in the competition. Junior Kegan Skelton has been the only male diver competing this semester. Freshman Aidan Chipps is ineligible because he took classes in Australia before coming to SIU and does not have enough credits.

Skelton finished second in the three-meter dive last year. He said his one-meter dive will be a challenge, but he thinks he will win the three-meter.

“It will be more difficult because it won’t be my home board, but we’re going there early so I will get to test the boards out a day in advance,” Skelton said. “A board is a board, I’m just going to have to adjust.”

The Saluki men’s team finished in third as a team last year. Walker said the team has been getting better after some of the best swimmers graduated.

“We’re still in the throws of trying to recoup from two years ago where we lost a huge very talented class,” he said. “Every year, we are getting closer and closer to getting back to where we were.”

Walker said sophomore Till Pallmann almost qualified for the national tournament last season and thinks he will have a good shot to qualify this year.

Follow @DEsalukis on Twitter for updates on the tournament.

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

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