Salukis sweep MVC Swimmer and Diver of the Week

    Esther Chen has won all four of her diving events in the two meets since joining the team in January.

    Esther Chen has won all four of her diving events in the two meets since joining the team in January.

    Feb. 5, 2013

    MVC Release

    ST. LOUIS - Southern Illinois swept the weekly Missouri Valley Conference swimming and diving awards, the conference announced Tuesday. Pamela Benitez earned MVC Swimmer of the Week for the second-straight week, and Esther Chen earned MVC Diver of the Week after just her second meet with the Salukis.

    Benitez, a junior, went 3-for-3 in individual races in Saturday's 154-89 win over Evansville. By going a perfect 3-for-3, Benitez has now won 18 of 19 individual events in dual meets in her two years with the Salukis. Against Evansville, Benitez dominated all three of her events. She won the 200-yard freestyle (1:51.82) by nearly five seconds, the 250-yard freestyle (2:25.66) by nearly five seconds and the 500-yard freestyle (4:58.96) by seven seconds.

    The weekly honor is the fourth career weekly honor for Benitez. She joined the team for the spring semester and earned the weekly nod twice before going on to first-team All-Conference honors at the MVC Championships. She earned Swimmer of the Week last week after winning both her individual events and a relay in a double dual meet with Washington (Mo.) and Rhodes College.

    Chen, a junior, joined the team this semester and has won all four diving events she has participated in during the team's two meets. Against Evansville, Chen was the only diver to eclipse 300 points on both the one- and three-meter dives. Her scores in the one- (315.15) and three-meter (322.81) dives were both more than 25 points better than the second-place finisher.

    The nod is the first of her career for Chen and the third MVC Diver of the Week honor for a Saluki diver this season. Teammate Sherry Zhang, who is also a newcomer this year, earned the honor twice in the fall.



    The Saluki women are back in action from Feb. 14-16 in the MVC Championships. Southern Illinois is hosting the meet in the Dr. Edward J. Shea Natatorium in the SIU Rec Center.