|Redbirds dive into season at Saluki Miler|
|Written by Kristi Demonbreun, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Monday, 24 September 2012 12:57|
The Redbirds kicked off their swimming and diving season at Southern Illinois University–Carbondale on Friday at the Saluki Miler.
The event was a two-day competition including indoor swimming and diving events Friday night and an outdoor 5K Open Water race on Saturday. The distance-oriented competition was different compared to the usual swimming meet, but it was still beneficial for the team.
“It was a great way for the distance swimmers to get their feet wet,” ISU head swimming coach Steve Paska said.
Friday night the Illinois State swimmers competed in both the 1650-yard freestyle and the 400-yard individual medley. Sophomore Cecilia Holmes finished second in the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 17:45.29 and first in the 400-yard IM with a time of 4:37.43.
“One thing about Cece is she is a true competitor; she loves to race and compete, and she did so in fine fashion this weekend. Her sophomore season is off to a great start,” Paska said.
Other top finishers included sophomore Valerie Jones who came home with a third-place finish in the 1650-yard freestyle (17:46.64), senior Jeanette Nolte, who finished fourth in both the 1650-yard freestyle (18:08.51) and the 400-yard IM (4:42.04) and freshman Courtney Taylor who began her collegiate career with a third-place finish in the 400-yard IM (4:41.82).
Illinois State’s diving team also competed Friday night and they represented ISU well as sophomore Wenting Zhang started off her season with two first-place finishes in the 1-meter and 3-meter dive.
“Wenting came out almost where she left off last year. She has a great talent,” ISU head diving coach Phil Hoffman said.
The team’s two seniors, Maureen Doyle and Madicyn Prouty, also started their final season off with successful performances.
“Maddie has been training all summer here in Bloomington and Maureen has come off a recent shoulder surgery better than ever. I look forward to see where those two take us this year,” Hoffman said.
Friday night was only the beginning of a competitive weekend for ISU’s distance swim team as the swimmers had to make a quick transition to prepare themselves for the outdoor 5K Open Water Race at Little Grass Lake on Saturday morning.
Although ISU does not normally compete in open water swimming, the Redbirds set the bar high with top finishes from senior Danielle Schumacher (1:04.01), Jones (1:05.45), Nolte (1:09.39), and freshman Tara Gidaszewski (1:11.51). Schumacher was the only ISU swimmer to have competed in the 5K open four times, and her experience showed with her veteran performance.
“That was a solid effort for Danielle and a superb way for her to start off her senior season. Overall, I am very impressed with where we are. Of course we need improvement in some areas, but now we can focus on that,” Paska said.
The Redbirds next competition, the Red and White Intrasquad Meet, will take place at 9 am. on Saturday at Horton Pool as part of the Homecoming festivities.