Redbird Swimmers Set To Compete in Puerto Rico
Valerie Jones
Valerie Jones

Jan. 3, 2013

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The Illinois State swimming team has made its annual winter break trip and will be competing in the Copa Coqui Invitational in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 8 a.m. CT. The team arrived in Puerto Rico on Dec. 30 and began training right away for the invitational, while also getting some time to relax and see the sights.

Last year, the Redbirds earned a fourth-place finish at the Copa Coqui Invitational, which is set up differently than the team is used to. The invitational will be measured in long-course meters, which is different for the Redbirds, who usually compete in short-course yards. Head coach Steve Paska has watched his student-athletes train hard over their winter break after finals, and looks forward to the competition in San Juan.

"Our student-athletes have been training hard during the break. We train twice a day and are preparing for the change from short-course yards to long-course meters," Paska said. "These winter trips allow the student-athletes to train well, because they are able to work together for four hours a day, and I am very impressed with their work ethic and dedication."

The Redbirds have not competed since early December, when the team traveled to Akron, Ohio, to compete in the Zippy Invitational. The Redbirds took third-place at the highly-competitive meet, earning multiple season best times and personal best times in the process.

 

 

Junior Erica Halley and sophomore Wenting Zhang were named Missouri Valley Conference Swimmer and Diver of the Week, respectively, for their performances at the meet. Halley qualified for the finals in multiple events and clocked four personal best time, as well as two season-best efforts. Zhang earned Valley Diver of the Week honors for the fifth time this season, after took home first-place honors in both the one and three-meter competitions. Her score of 330.05 in the finals of the 3-meter set a record at the Zippy Invitational and broke the Illinois State school record, which she previously held.

Despite the long layoff, Paska knows his team excited to get back into the pool.

"The team is excited to be back in the water, and the Copa Coqui Invitational will be great competition," Paska said. "During this invitational, we are able to compete against schools that we do not normally compete against, and that will help us as we continue move into the rest of the season."

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