Minnesota finishes 10th at NCAA Championships

Nine of 10 Minnesota swimmers who competed earned All-American honors.

Senior Danielle Nack swims the 200 Yard Butterfly during the Minnesota Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at the Jean K Freeman Aquatic Center.

Image by Ellen Schmidt

Senior Danielle Nack swims the 200 Yard Butterfly during the Minnesota Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at the Jean K Freeman Aquatic Center.

by Erik Nelson

Ten Minnesota swimmers competed at the 2018 NCAA championships in Columbus, Ohio Wednesday through Saturday, and nine of them came back to Minneapolis with All-American honors.

No. 16 Minnesota finished 10th in the overall standings with a score of 157. No. 1 Stanford won the title for the second consecutive year.

Head coach Kelly Kremer said the Gophers swam well despite their score.

“Over the last 15 years, we’ve been one of the most consistent and successful programs in the country,” Kremer said. “When you consider how difficult it is in our sport to get into the top 10 [at NCAAs], it was a great weekend for our young ladies.”

Sophomore Sarah Bacon won gold in the 1-meter dive event on Thursday, earning a score of 343.50. Bacon is is the second diver in program history to win the 1-meter dive at the NCAA championships.

The relay team of Zoe Avestruz, Lindsey Kozelsky, Danielle Nack and Tevyn Waddell set a program record in the 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:28.34. They finished fifth.

On Wednesday, the relay team of Avestruz, Chantal Nack, Danielle Nack and Mackenzie Padington finished eighth in the 800-yard freestyle relay, completing the race in 6:56.40. That time set a Minnesota record.

“[Danielle Nack] had an incredible career,” Kremer said. “She’s going to be missed dearly, and our team will have to work hard to fill those shoes.”

On Friday, Padington finished 12th in the consolation final of the 200-yard freestyle. She finished the race in 1:44.37, receiving an All-American Honorable Mention.

Avestruz, Kozelsky, Danielle Nack and Waddell teamed up for a sixth-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay, finishing the race in 1:36.03.

“This is the best NCAA meet that ever occurred,” Kremer said. “Records were falling in almost every event and our team was part of that. It was an outstanding atmosphere.”

Kozelsky won bronze in the 100-yard breaststroke on Friday, finishing in 58.18 seconds. On Saturday, she finished seventh in the 200-yard breaststroke, finishing in 2:07.69.

Kozelsky is the second Minnesota swimmer to have four top-eight All-American finishes at a single NCAA championship. The other is Gretchen Hegener, who accomplished the feat in 1997.

A relay team of Chantal Nack, Danielle Nack, Avestruz and Waddell finished 21st in the 400-yard freestyle relay. This was Saturday’s final relay race and the team finished in 3:15.83.

Kremer said he thanked his team and challenged them to do better next season after the last event on Saturday.

“I know the level of commitment it takes to be successful,” Kremer said. “I thanked them for their commitment and everything they do for the University of Minnesota.”