SIU's Handley keeps head above water on way to 5K title
Bryn Handley started her senior season at Southern Illinois University with a splash, claiming a win at the Open Water National Championship at Lonestar Lake in Lawrence, Kansas, recently.
Handley told the Southwest Illinois News that competing in an open water race brings a different set of challenges than racing in the pool.
“It was pretty different than being in a pool,” she said. “Open water is a lot more aggressive. There aren’t lanes separating you from anybody else. Also, you can’t really see anything in the wake, so you have to lift up and look where you’re going.”
Handley took first in the 5K with a time of 1:04:39.22, beating swimmers from colleges such as Kansas, Missouri and Rice. She and her SIU teammates took fourth place at the meet.
“I was excited with my performance,” Handley said. “I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. I just was trying to race well and see what happened. It wasn’t my plan to win the race going in, but I was really excited that it ended up that way.”
In preparing for the race, head coach Rick Walker gave the swimmers pointers on competing in an open water race.
“We did a lot of the same training as usual in the water,” Hadley said. “But Rick has a lot of experience in open water swimming, so he worked with the six of us that were going to the meet. We went out to Little Grassy Lake and Campus Lake and did some lake swims to get ready for the meet.”
Kansas took the team title, Rice claimed second and Missouri finished third.
Handley and the rest of the Salukis now head back indoors for the remainder of the year. SIU will face off against Missouri State in early October, then compete against McKendree, Illinois and Illinois State. On Nov. 3, SIU will host Kentucky, Missouri and Northwestern at the Saluki Invite in Carbondale.
On Feb. 14, SIU will take part in the Missouri Valley Conference Championships in Iowa City, Iowa.
For more information on SIU’s swimming and diving team, visit www.siusalukis.com.