Off-seasons do not exist for swimmers.
Saluki coach Rick Walker said he thinks swimming is a year-long sport.
“I don’t believe there’s another sport that has as long a continuous season as we do,” he said.
Saluki swimmers and divers met collectively for the first time this week to prepare for the upcoming season. Many returned home during the summer to train with their old clubs and coaches.
Junior Shailey Brumley said she stayed in the water all year long. She said she rejoined her club in the Dallas area this summer to stay in swimming condition.
“You don’t want to lose it because you can get distracted easily in the summer,” she said.
Sophomore diver Kegan Skelton also went home to fine-tune his skills. He said he worked with his former coach at Centennial High School in Champaign.
Skelton also trained at Purdue University, where some of the team will compete Nov. 15-17 in the school’s invitational. He said he plans to qualify for the event and compete against some of his peers.
“I’m really looking forward to diving with Purdue,” he said. “I know a lot of Purdue people. (They) will be some of the top divers.”
Junior Csaba Gercsak, who competed in the Summer London Olympics, said he swam around 16 to 20 km a day to help stay in shape. Distance swimming is Gercsak’s specialty, and he said he looks forward to competing in the mile.
“That’s the event where I want to do my very best and beat my personal time,” he said.
Coach Walker said the team has eight new men and four new women. He said he thinks the team has been gelling together well, and his main focus right now is for the team to become a unit.
He said the beginning meets will be a good gauge for how the team will perform this season.
“That’s one of the benefits we have,” Walker said. “We can afford to use some of the first competitions to kind of figure out where we fit best and try to maximize our lineup.”
Brumley said the team is setting itself up pretty well. She said she is looking forward to competing against the bigger programs this season, which fires the team up.
The team will compete against Purdue and Cincinnati this year, as well as some other high-profile Missouri Valley Conference squads.
“We’re looking to go in there and make a name for ourselves,” Brumley said. “We know them so well, but they don’t know us.”
Brumley and Gercsak said they think the new swimmers, who came to SIU from countries all over the world, will add a lot of speed to the team.
Coach Walker said he thinks they will make a lasting impression.
“We’ve got some good quality, and everybody that we’ve brought in, I think, is going to have an impact on the program,” he said.
Gercsak said the Salukis will have a chance to do something big at the end of the season if everyone on the team gives their all.
“I think we have a pretty strong team with strong individuals,” he said. “As a whole, if we work together, we can be there fighting for first place at the end.”
The Saluki swimming and diving season will begin Sept. 21 with the Saluki Miler.