|Vandals take on WSU Saturday|
By Anthony Kuiper, Idaho Athletic Media Relations
A group of record-breaking seniors is competing in its last home meet as Vandals when the University of Idaho swimming and diving team takes on Washington State Saturday. The seniors will be recognized in a ceremony at 11:15 with the first event at 11:30.
Senior Day at the UI Swim Center will shine a spotlight on Savannah Bettis, Calleagh Brown, Katie Hendricks, Si Jia Pang and Chelsey Stanger The five swimmers are leaving a major imprint on the program, which already has garnered immense success since its rebirth in 2004.
Bettis certainly is ending her career on a high note. She broke the school record for the 200 butterfly last Saturday against Oregon State in front of a home crowd and helped Idaho earn a 147-147 tie.
“For me, it’s a long-term goal that’s come true,” Bettis said. “It’s a lot of hard work that’s gone into that and it’s really cool to see it pay off.”
Along with the 200 butterfly record, Bettis is a member of the school record-holding 400 Medley relay team. She also holds the 13th-fastest 100 butterfly time in school history.
Bettis, who is from Redondo Beach, Calif., said she came from a small high school program and takes pride in knowing that she improved into an accomplished collegiate swimmer. Bettis said that if she can do it, so can her teammates.
“I can tell my teammates now that it’s important to keep going and keep trying and that they can get there too,” Bettis said.
Bettis said she will pursue a career in physical therapy after graduating.
Brown also found her place in the record books in her time at Idaho. She held the 200 butterfly record until Bettis broke it. She is a member of the school record-holding 200 medley relay team as well. She stepped up her performance when it matters most. During her freshman and sophomore years, she set personal records in multiple events during the Western Athletic Conference championships.
A Eugene, Ore. Native, she described her career as a “whirlwind” especially with changes in the coaching staff but said she would not change it for a thing.
“I came here with a coach and I’m leaving with a different coach and I’m still here for the same reason and that’s to be a Vandal,” Brown said.
Brown said her last home meet will likely be an emotional one.
“We’ve been together for four years and we’ve been through a lot good and bad,” Brown said. “We spend twenty hours a week here in this pool and it means a lot to us. It’s basically our job and our careers here are coming to an end and we’ve all been in it together. You can’t really describe the feelings except for what you share with those five people. They’re the ones who know what you feel.”
Brown is pursuing a career in sports administration and sports management.
Hendricks is one of the most versatile swimmers at Idaho. She competed in numerous events ranging from the 50 free to the 1650 free. She especially made an impact in the relay events. She is a member of the second- and third-fastest 200 free relay teams in school history as well as the second- and third-fastest 400 free relay teams. She also holds the school’s 10th-fastest 200 butterfly time.
Hendricks, who is from Sumner, Wash., described her career as a “roller-coaster” experience that has ended on a high note.
“I had a great first year here,” Hendricks said. “I had a rough middle two and this year has just been amazing. I enjoy the sport again and it’s going to be sad when it’s over but I’m ready to start a new part of my life.”
Hendricks said being able to travel, see new places “and enjoying all those moments that we’ve all had as a team” stand out to her when she reflects on her career.
To Hendricks, competing as a Vandal means more than individual success.
“It means being a part of something that’s bigger than you and competing for your school,” Hendricks said. “It means being awesome.”
Hendricks plans on attending law school after graduating.
Si Jia Pang
Pang carved out a prominent place in the program’s history, most notably in the relay events. She is part of four school record-holding relay teams: the 200 medley, 400 medley, 200 freestyle and 800 freestyle teams. She also holds the eighth-fastest 50 freestyle time in school history, an event that she particularly excelled at during the WAC championships.
Pang made the national team in her home country of Singapore before coming to Idaho. She said the university allowed her to prolong her career and is thankful for the opportunity to continue with the sport.
“If I stayed home I wouldn’t be swimming right now,” Pang said. “Swimming for so long – it’s been a big part of my life, nothing can describe it.”
Pang, like Hendricks, also said being a Vandal means putting your teammates first.
“It’s really nice to be a part of a team and something bigger than yourself,” Pang said.
She said her teammates are what she will remember most.
“Being part of the team and knowing that everyone else has your back, that’s what stood out to me,” Pang said.
Pang is currently in graduate school and studying accounting.
Stanger said her time at Idaho taught her important values which helped her grow as a swimmer and a person.
“There’s a quote that we used to have in our locker room that says ‘Honesty + Integrity= Punctuality,’ so I think that’s important to have all those aspects in your life,” Stanger said.
Stanger displayed impressive improvement throughout her career. She set a personal record in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly at the 2009-10 WAC Championships. She broke her personal record in the 100 butterfly this season and also set a career best in the 100 backstroke.
This season, Stanger tried to improve as a team leader, a position she fully embraced.
“You don’t realize it until your senior year – everyone’s watching your every move,” Stanger said. “You’re setting a good example. If you don’t lead the right way then your freshmen start slacking off so it’s really important to do everything perfect and set a good example for the next classes coming in.”
Stanger, who is from Dayton, Wash., is majoring in recreation and hopes to be a youth activities programmer.