Swimming and diving places third at the MVC Championship

    Shailey Brumley earned the MVC's Elite 18 Award and was a first-team All-Conference swimmer.

    Shailey Brumley earned the MVC's Elite 18 Award and was a first-team All-Conference swimmer.

    Feb. 16, 2013

    By John Lock

    Complete Results

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois women's swimming and diving team finished the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Championship in third place on Saturday evening. Seventeen swimmers earned All-Conference honors and Shailey Brumley was honored as the conference's Elite 18 Award winner.

    "We learned a lot about our team these past three days," head coach Rick Walker said. "We asked a lot of each other, and we got great swims. We took another step forward, and we're a young team. We can use this and take an even bigger step next year."

    The three-day meet was highlighted by three event wins for Southern. Southern won the meet's first event, the 200-yard freestyle relay, setting a school record in the process (1:33.18).

    The Salukis won their next event on the meet's final day. Pamela Benitez cruised to a win in the mile (16:53.33), winning her first conference title in an event. In two years with SIU, Benitez has finished among the top three in all six individual events she has competed in. This year, Benitez finished second in both the 500- and 200-yard freestyle races, tying for the third-best time in school history in the 200-yard free (1:49.69).

    Sherry Zhang put on a show in the three-meter dive, nailing nearly every dive on her way to a MVC Championship record score 351.60. In the process, she knocked off back-to-back MVC Diver of the Year Wenting Zhang of Illinois State.

    In the post-meet awards, Shailey Brumley earned the Elite 18 Award, which goes to the swimmer with the highest cumulative GPA competing in an A Final. Brumley becomes the first Saluki to earn the honor, which is in just its third year of existence.



    The meet was the final meet in the careers of swimmers Kirsten Groome, Melissa Larocque and Jessica Anderson. Groome and Larocque picked up All-Conference honors and Anderson set a lifetime best in the 100-yard breaststroke. Senior diver Anna Beeck will wrap up her career after the Zone Diving Championships.

    "You couldn't as for four better seniors," Waker said. "They have been as good as anyone in competition, in the classroom and as teammates. They've been great role models for our young team, and we can't thank them enough for all they did for this program."

    The Saluki newcomers also played a big part in the meet. Helena Amorim, Esther Chen, Morgan Timms, Sherry Zhang and Katy Ovington all were new to the team this year, and all of them earned All-Conference honors with their performances.

    Timms led all the swimming newcomers with her second-place finishes in both the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes. Amorim finished among the top eight in the 200-, 500- and 1650-yard freestyles.

    Esther Chen, along with Zhang, rejuvenated the Saluki diving events. Southern overwhelmed the conference in diving, placing all four divers in the top six divers in both the one- and three-meter dive. All of the divers earned All-Conference recognition.

    "We have a lot of quality swimmers and divers coming back," Walker said. "If we learn from this like we should, we can take big steps forward. I'm already excited to work with this group next year."

    While the women's season is over, the men host the Mid-American Conference Championship from March 7-9 at the Dr. Edward J. Shea Natatorium in the SIU Rec Center.

    Team Results
    1. Missouri State - 897
    2. Illinois State - 775
    3. Southern Illinois - 721
    4. Evansville - 450
    5. UNI - 294

    First-team All-Conference
    Pamela Benitez
    Shailey Brumley
    Esther Chen
    Holly Johnson
    Hannah Pinion
    Luisa Silveira
    Morgan Timms
    Helena Amorim
    Sherry Zhang

    Honorable mention All-Conference
    Rachael Barry
    Anna Beeck
    Isabela Castro
    Charlotte Davies
    Kirsten Groome
    Melissa Larocque
    Katy Ovington
    Brittany Weigel