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Salukis separate for more individual swims

By Aaron Graff

The Saluki swimming and diving team will split in half this weekend to compete in the Missouri Invite in Colombia, Mo. and the Phoenix invite in Chicago.

Saluki swimmers had to qualify to go to the Missouri Invite with their best times of the season. Coaches chose who would go to the Missouri Invite based on who would likely qualify for finals. Coach Rick Walker said he wants each swimmer to have the experience of swimming in preliminaries and finals to simulate the feeling of conference competition.

“I’m looking for all of our athletes to have the ability to be able to come back in a final swim,” Walker said. “Those who are going to Chicago have not been swimming the times yet that it would require to come back at Missouri.”

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The Missouri Invite will feature some of the top schools in the country, so the coaches decided to send some swimmers to the Phoenix Invite to give them a better chance at making finals, even though there is quality swimming there as well.

Senior George Minkel, who will compete at the Phoenix Invite, said Chicago will host many top NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III swim teams that can easily compete with NCAA Division I athletes. Minkel said the idea of splitting up is good, as some athletes have faced setbacks.

“All of us are at different spots in our training,” Minkel said. “Altogether these meets are going to do really good things for us because at the end of the season we are going to come together as a unit and perform our best.”

Associate head coach Scott Olson is going to the Missouri Invite and said there will be plenty of well-known schools at the meet.

“It is going to be a very mixed competition,” Olson said. “They have Mizzou, they have Utah, West Virginia, so some bigger schools. We will be in the mix, I don’t expect us to be the top dog there, but we will be giving those top dogs some fight.”

Olson hopes for good races overall. He said the swimmers are not well-rested, but he wants them to swim their best race possible when their name is called.

“(Our) expectations are to be able to get up and race,” Olson said. “We don’t expect to be flawless at this point, we are not fully rested or anything like that but at the same time we want to step up and go.”

Sophomore Helena Amorim, who will compete in the Missouri Invite, said she sees herself doing well at the meet, even with some big competition.

“I think I will swim well,” Amorim said. “I have been practicing a lot, I’m feeling good in the water and the whole team is well prepared by the coaches and the weights. Everybody has worked really hard, and we are going to swim well there.”

All of the divers will also be attending the Missouri Invite because it gives them tough competition and better prepares them for conference.

Walker will go to Chicago with graduate assistant coach Mike Firth. Part of the reason Walker chose to go to the Phoenix Invite was to see at least part of the women’s state championship in Chicago — this allows him to look at the best high school swimmers in the state and get an idea of upcoming college talent.

Walker emphasized how important it is that the swimmers swim as much as they can since these two will be the last meets of 2013. If he had the 25th spot on the roster, he would rather go to Chicago so he could swim more races, he said.

“It does not matter where (the swimmers) fall in our lineup,” Walker said. “They are in a place that they are going to get second swims, and that is the most important thing.”

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The student news site of Southern Illinois University