U swimmer a Schuh-in for national meet

Ryan Schuster

Tanya Schuh emerged from the pool, dripping wet, with a wide smile on her face. She covered her mouth, still grinning, as she looked up at the scoreboard in astonishment. Her name and the time :54.24 flashed in lights on the University Aquatic Center scoreboard.
Schuh had just set a new Big Ten record by winning the 100-yard butterfly event at last year’s conference championships.
The response was typical of Schuh’s personality — always upbeat and determined to exceed everyone’s expectations, including her own.
She started taking swimming lessons when she was only four- years-old because her mother was afraid of her drowning in a lake near their home. She never dreamt that 17 years later, she would be one of the top swimmers in the nation because of her mother’s concern.
Things weren’t always as simple for Tanya, though.
Her parents moved around a lot when she was young, forcing Schuh to adjust quickly. She was born in Fairfax, Virginia. Then her parents moved to Minnesota, back to Virginia, and now they are living in Minnesota once again.
Her initial transition to college was also a big step. She used to throw-up before each meet during her freshman year because of nerves. In the past three years, however, Schuh has made great strides and has become stronger, both mentally and physically.
Last year Schuh was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year. She won the 100 and 200 butterfly events and swam on the Gophers 200 medley relay squad that set a conference and school record at the 1996 Big Ten championships. The Stillwater High School graduate also received All-American accolades in both butterfly events last year.
“She’s extremely powerful,” Gophers coach Jean Freeman said. “She’s the first swimmer we’ve ever had do more work in the weight room than in the pool.”
Schuh’s determination and positive outlook took quite a test last summer.
In February, she swam a time of 101.66 in the 100-meter butterfly that appeared to have qualified her to compete for Brazil in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Schuh and her two older sisters have dual citizenship because their mother was born in Brazil and their father is from Indiana.
Brazilian officials refused to accept the results, claiming that the time was not valid because an official from their country was not present. Last June, Schuh traveled to Sao Paulo to try to achieve the Olympic qualifying time that she believed she had already attained.
She was initially informed that she would have three meets to qualify. After she did not succeed in her first two attempts, however, the Brazilian officials told her that she had used up all her opportunities to make the team.
“It took me a long time, but I finally got through it,” Schuh said, breaking into tears. “I learned a lot from it, and I found out why I love swimming so much.”
In addition to posting a time that fell under the 101.69 Olympic qualifying standard, she was also a member of the ninth-rated relay team in the world. Instead of letting the harrowing experience ruin her swimming career, Schuh has rebounded to have a stellar senior season for the Gophers.
“I think it motivated her,” Freeman said. “Some people could be devastated by something like that, but she wants to go back and do the best she can and show them they made a mistake.”
Schuh has already automatically qualified for the NCAA championships in the 100 butterfly. Her time of 54.86 is the second fastest in the Big Ten this year by less than .3 seconds to Gina Panighetti of Wisconsin. Schuh and her teammates will swim against Panighetti and the Badgers this weekend.

Swim teams compete at Quad Duals
The No. 9 Gophers women will face off against No. 22 Wisconsin, No. 23 Illinois and Purdue this weekend. Minnesota’s ninth-ranked men’s swimming and diving team takes on Wisconsin and Purdue. Both meets will be held Friday thru Saturday at the Aquatic Center.