Illini swimmers returning home

By Drake Pena

When she attended Champaign Centennial High School, Illini swimmer Audrey Rodawig was only two and a half miles from the University of Illinois campus.

To put that into perspective, that’s just a bit further than going on a run from the ARC to the Engineering Quad, and back again.

After spending her first two years at Ball State, Rodawig transferred to her hometown school.

The junior is one of nine additions to the Illini roster this season, six of which are from Illinois.

Fellow transfer, sophomore Charli Wike from Sterling, Ill., is returning to the state of Illinois after swimming her freshman season at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Head coach Sue Novitsky was ecstatic that two of her swimmers came home and helped out the Illini.

“Obviously we always like Illinois kids to stay in Illinois, so it’s great to have them here,” Novitsky said, “Both are great additions to our team.”

Rodawig and Wike swim different sets of events. Novitsky is looking forward to seeing her new recruits compete and is excited to get the opportunity to watch her new pupils develop and grow as members of her team.

Rodawig will compete in the sprint, freestyle and butterfly.

“She’s got that potential to really help out our relays and to help us out individually in her events both at the Big Ten Championships and throughout our dual meet season,” Novitsky said. “We are excited to help her on improving even more.”

Novitsky had similar sentiments in regards to Wike, a breaststroker.

“(Charli) has a lot of potential to gain, especially in the area of strength,” Novitsky said. “She had great drops her freshman year at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and I think having the chance to further develop her is an excellent opportunity for the team.”

Novitsky is not the only one who is enthusiastic. Rodawig and Wike have each expressed their enthusiasm to be part of Illinois athletics.

Wike said that the strength of Novitsky’s training regimen is very beneficial, and despite the progress she made at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the training she has already received under Novitsky has her confident about the season.

Wike continued on about her satisfaction of being an Illini.

“Being here, I absolutely love it,” she said. “I’ve been here for a week and a half, and it feels more like home than home even does. I absolutely love the team.”

Hometown girl Rodawig has an extra bit of support behind her for the home contests, as she expects a lot of friendly faces waiting for her outside of the pool at the end of meets.

“I’m so excited. My parents, grandparents and friends are just so stoked to be able to come and watch me,” Rodawig said. “It’s only about a five-minute drive, so it’s going to be really fun. I was told I might have quite the big fan section here for me at the home meets.”

Novitsky can tell that Rodawig is happy to be back in the area where she grew up not only for swimming, but also for her academic interests.

“I think she’s excited about being able to be here,” Novitsky said. “She’s a speech and hearing science major, so she’s really excited about being in that department. Overall, I think she’s just excited for the opportunity to be home and closer to family, and just in the area.”

Lots of emotions come from being a transfer. Competing at a new school can really make for a stressful time for some athletes. Not every athlete makes the decision that is right for them. But in the case of Rodawig and Wike, both think they’ll fit right in.

“It feels great,” Rodawig said, “I’m really happy to be a part of the Illini family.”

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