Pamela Benitez has posted the fastest time in the conference this year in three of the Championship events.
Feb. 12, 2014
By Tim McCaughan
ST. LOUIS - The Southern Illinois women's swimming and diving team tied for second with Illinois State in this year's pre-Missouri Valley Conference Championship poll. The Salukis and Redbirds each garnered 27 points in the poll, which trailed Missouri State who received 36 points and all six first-place votes. Evansville (17 points), Northern Iowa (12), and MVC newcomer Arkansas-Little Rock (7 points) rounded out the pre-Championship poll.
The Salukis hold the conference's top time or score in 11 of the Championship's 20 events. Pamela Benitez has posted the fastest time in the conference this year in three of the Championship events, the 200- (1:49.01), 500- (4:51.77) and 1,650-yard (16.:33.52) freestyles. Benitez holds the top conference time in the 1000-yard freestyle by over nine seconds. She also holds the best time in the 1000-yard freestyle (10:13.40), which is not an event at the Championship.
Junior Hannah Pinion holds the top time in the 200-yard IM this year (2:04.06). Pinion set an MVC Championship record in the 200 IM at last year's Championship while Sarah James holds the fastest time in the conference in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:02.57.
Isabela Castro, who is the two-time defending conference champion (2010-11, 2011-12) in the 200-yard butterfly, will have to compete with Missouri State's Dora Kiss to reclaim the event after Kiss set the MVC Championship record during last years Championship.
Kaixuan Zhang holds the conference's top score in both the one-meter (345.00) and three-meter (389.00) dives. Zhang earned MVC Diver of the Week honors four times during the season and swept diving events five times this year.
The MVC Championship is being hosted by Southern Illinois at the Dr. Edward J. Shea Natatorium in the SIU Student Rec Center. The three-day meet starts Thursday with an 11 a.m. preliminary session and a 6 p.m. finals session. Friday will have sessions at the same time. Saturday's sessions will begin at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.
To follow along with live results and a live blog from every session of the Championships, click HERE. Updates will also be periodically posted on the swimming and diving official Twitter account @SIU_SwimDive. Fans wishing to view live stats on a mobile device, can download the Meet Mobile App through a mobile app store.
MVC Pre-Championship Poll
1. Missouri State, 36 (6)
T2. Illinois State, 27
T2. Southern Illinois, 27
4. Evansville, 17
5. Northern Iowa, 12
6. UALR, 7
Live video streams of the MVC Championship can be viewed here:
Finals, 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13
Finals, 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14
Finals, 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15