First year looking bright for Illescas

first_imgThe Wisconsin women’s swim team has had a successful year and has received positive results — and not just from the upperclassmen.Jennifer Illescas is one of those important figures on this highly competitive squad that has helped aid the team throughout the first four months of competition.As one of four freshmen on the team, Illescas is already making an impact. When asked how to describe her performance this season, head coach Eric Hansen said, “Really solid. She has been a very consistent trainer. She had a great training camp in Hawaii.”Hawaii was the place for one of Illescas’ breakout performance as she had one of her best meets of the season.At the meet, the East Elmhurst, N.Y., native swam three events, winning two (1,000-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle) and placing third (200-yard freestyle) in the other.But Hawaii was not all fun and games for Illescas, as the team spent all winter break there training.”It was really difficult. We did a lot more dry land, and it was so hard because we practiced outside and therefore have the exposure to the sun,” Illescas commented about the team’s training.Since winter break has ended, the team has relocated back to the SERF, where they conduct their daily workouts.At the SERF, Illescas trains at times with the middle distance swim group and with professional swimmer Carly Piper in the distance group.Illescas was recruited in part to fill the void left by multiple Big Ten champion and NCAA All-American Piper.Out of high school, Illescas was a member of the 2004 USA National Junior Team that competed in Australia and was also a U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in 200-meter butterfly and 400-meter freestyle.Both of those accolades caught the attention of Wisconsin coaches and Illescas quickly decided to take a trip to UW.However, on her trip to Madison, Illescas was not initially impressed with the campus.”It was the second day of my recruiting trip. It had rained the entire first day, and I was like, “No way am I going here,’” she explained. “Then I loved the lake, the campus and State Street.”On her recruiting trip to Madison was fellow teammate and roommate Jill Courtney. Later, Illescas would pair up with other freshmen teammates Katie Twitchell and Yi Ting Siow.Illescas calls all three freshmen her best friends on the team, as they all bonded immediately in the fall semester.All four freshmen continue to help each other through the good times and the bad. The sophomores have also paired together to help guide Illescas and the other freshmen in the swim team’s “Big Fish” program.As a freshman, being a part of the team was difficult for Illescas to get used to, but thanks to the help from her teammates, she adapted to it rather quickly.Now, the bulk of the season is quickly approaching for Illescas. In a few weeks, she will take part with her teammates in the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio.At the Championships, she will be competing with goals to qualify for the NCAA Championships in March.This is the attitude and mentality that Hansen instills in his swimmers.”The main purpose of the Big Ten championship is to qualify as many swimmers as possible for the NCAAs,” Hansen said.And, hopefully, after putting in an exhausting season of training, Illescas will prevail at the Big Ten Championships and earn a spot on the Badger NCAA Championships squad.last_img