Recruits to join Saluki swimming, diving family

By Aaron Graff

The Salukis have signed a few family ties for the fall season, as recruitment is well on its way for the SIU swimming and diving team.

Walker said the team did not have a lot of scholarship money this year to give out, but the team has signed some names with a lot of potential, and he is quite pleased so far.

On the men’s side, the team has signed Michael Wolfe who is the brother of junior Shaun Wolfe and former Saluki Justin Wolfe. Walker said he was one of the top recruits in Illinois, and the country.


The team has also signed Alex Crawford from Francis Howell High School in St. Charles, Mo., whom Walker considers a diamond in the rough. Walker could not announce another male recruit because he has not either signed a letter of intent or financially committed, which would break NCAA rules.

On the women’s side, the team has signed Walker’s daughter who just finished fourth in the 500m and sixth in the 200m at the high school state meet in Chicago. The Salukis also signed Bryn Handley, who is the sister of sophomore Kiley Handley and Nicole Fuller from North Augusta High School in South Carolina, who had ties to Walker.

Fuller has interest in open water swimming, and her coach was on Walker’s staff on one of the U.S. national team camps. Her coach remembered Walker, the chairman of the open water committee, so he suggested SIU to her.

“When you have coaches saying ‘If you have this interest and you want to swim in college, there’s one place.’ and if they’re recommending just SIU in that area, it doesn’t hurt.” Walker said.

Walker said those three girls could be towards the top of the conference when they come in. However, the team has also made a few lesser-known signings, including Liane Tatigian from John Rennie High School in Quebec, Can. Tatigian swims breaststroke, which has not been a popular position for SIU.

“We also signed a breaststroker which has eluded us for three years,” Walker said. “It’s not through lack of trying, it’s just there were times when we couldn’t buy one.”

Walker said overall the team is extremely excited for the recruits that have been signed.

Sophomore Till Pallmann said the team knows most of the people coming, and that most of them fit in well with the team.

“We already know almost everybody who is coming here next year,” Pallmann said. ”They are all fitting in our team, and they are strong, so I am really looking forward to it.”

Fellow sophomore Katy Ovington said when recruits’ names float around the pool, the team likes to look up times online to see how its future teammates are doing.

“We all like to keep track of them and see how they’re doing, see how they’re performing, see what potential they have, where they could fit in on the team, where they could swim in relays and things like that, because everything effects everyone,” Ovington said.

Pallmann said he is not only excited for the recruits to join, but he is also excited for them coming to a family environment.

“Whoever comes here, and it’s their first time here, we have a great environment here,” Pallman said. “Everyone is welcomed here as a family.”

The recruits usually come to SIU for a recruitment trip. Ovington did not have a recruitment trip herself since she is an international student, but she said it is fun to see the recruits come in nervous.

“They are generally really quiet and nervous,” Ovington said. “The team all gets together, and we do a lot of team activities so we get to know their personalities as well as their times.”

Walker said his main strategy is to get the best swimmers he can.

“(My) main strategy is: give me someone who is going to get me closer to winning,” Walker said.

Several of the recruits Walker has brought in from prior years will attempt to do just that for the spring season, which will start in January.