Benitez and Zhang Earn MVC Swimmer and Diver of the Week Honors

    Zhang earns her third MVC Diver of the Week award of her career.

    Zhang earns her third MVC Diver of the Week award of her career.

    Oct. 29, 2013

    By Tim McCaughan

    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 time this year, while Cheri Zhang earned MVC Diver of the Week.

    Benitez picked up the first win for SIU on day one of the Salukis first tri-meet of the season when she claimed the 500-yard freestyle by two hundredths of a second over Kentucky's Kendal Casey with a time of 4:57.68.

    The San Salvador, El Salvador native posted a second-place showing in the 1000-yard freestyle (10:13.40). She finished second in the 400-yard freestyle (1:51.67). Benitez was also a part of the Saluki 400-yard medley relay team that finished second with a time of 1:56.11.

    Zhang, the 2013 3-meter diving MVC Champion, won the 3-meter dive (334.25) against stiff competition in Kentucky and Missouri, both of which finished last season ranked in the Top-25 in the nation. Zhang also finished second in the 1-meter dive with a score of 309.00.

    Zhang, a sophomore, has won 3-of-4 diving events in which she has participated this year. The first being at Evansville, where she swept the 1- and 3-meter events.

    The nod is the third of her career and the first MVC Diver of the Week honor for a Saluki diver this year.

    The Salukis will be back in action Nov. 2 when they travel to Springfield, Mo. to take on Missouri State.