Salukis remember fall, but shift focus

By Aaron Graff

The SIU swimming and diving team broke multiple school records this semester and improved its times and scores throughout the season.

The team had its last meets Nov. 21-24 and coach Rick Walker is very pleased with the results from both the Phoenix and Missouri Invites, and the fall season as a whole.

Walker said it is obvious the team wants to win, and everyone knows where they want to go, but the expectations are a lot clearer at this point of the season than the beginning of the year.


“If nothing else, I have a clearer vision than when we first started,” Walker said. “It’s like that mountain range, you want to end up at that mountain range; well as you get closer that mountain range becomes more specific.”

Walker said the team schedule introduces challenges at specific points of the season to better prepare SIU for the conference tournament. For instance, the team faced the University of Missouri and the University of Kentucky earlier this season to get one of the most difficult meets out of the way, and make every swimmer better at an earlier time frame.

“You put a plan together, and you try and get your schedule to match what you would like to have the plan to be,” Walker said.

Sophomore Katy Ovington said the team has recorded several personal bests during the fall season, and will keep training hard to prepare for the conference championships Feb. 13-15 and Mar. 6-8.

“The team as a whole have had an awesome season so far,” Ovington said. “We have had so many best times so far, and conference is still quite a distance away.”

Fellow sophomore Till Pallmann said the team is a lot better at this point of the season than it was last year. He said the freshmen have stepped it up and filled the positions the team lost to last year’s graduating seniors.

Pallmann recently broke a school record in the 100-yard backstroke at the University of Missouri, despite the fact that he said his main focus is freestyle, and would expect a record from freestyle before backstroke.

“I swam the 100 (yard) backstroke and the 200 (yard) fly as my exhibition events,” Pallmann said.

Ovington said her expectations have slightly changed during the fall season because the team has potential to contend for the conference championship. She also swam some of her fastest races of her career.

“The goals I had when I first came here are a lot more reachable than I ever thought they would be,” Ovington said. “The coaching has been absolutely amazing, my teammates have been brilliant and so supportive with everyone.”

Walker said his favorite thing about the team and the fall season is they have consistently shown up with smiles on their faces.

“I love this group,” Walker said. “I love coming in here and working with them because they want to be here, and if they don’t, they’re faking it pretty well.”

Walker said it is not easy coming to practice every day for hours hearing coaches correct every little thing, but he said the team never talks back and always has a positive attitude.

The Salukis will be practicing for the rest of the semester and during winter break to prepare for meets in early January.