Men and women have sound season end

by Krista Theis

The Minnesota men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams excelled in back-to-back weekends as they hosted the NCAA Championships on March 8-10 and March 15-17, respectively.

The men finished their meet in 10th place and earned many All-American honors.

Coach Dennis Dale said he was pleased with how the Gophers finished because the team’s goal was to land in the top 10.

Fourteen men competed in this year’s NCAAs, including 13 swimmers and one diver.

Senior Shaun Kennedy was the first Minnesota diver to represent the team at the NCAAs in diving since 2001, and he had a great first appearance. Kennedy earned honorable mention All-American with a 10th-place finish on the platform.

Kennedy was 15th after prelims with a score of 305, but it was his career-best finals performance of 370.35 points that secured him 10th place.

Kennedy led his competitors in all but one of the six rounds during finals and contributed seven points to the Gophers’ team score.

“Honestly, I feel like there’s no better way it could end,” he said. “I mean it’s at our home pool. It’s my senior year and it’s nationals.”

On the swimming end, Minnesota earned All-American honors in all five relays.

Dale said he wasn’t surprised because the relays are the team’s strong point.

Individually, senior David Plummer ended his college swimming career in impressive fashion.

He set new school records in both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke over the course of the weekend.

The first was set when he swam the 100-yard backstroke leg of the 400-yard medley relay in 46.64 seconds.

On Saturday he followed with the 200, swimming it in 1:42.41 during the preliminaries. In finals he took fifth in the event with a time of 1:42.75, making him Minnesota’s first individual first-team All-American.

“I was faster this morning than I was tonight,” Plummer said. “But, I was happy to move up and secure some points and help us finish in the top 10.”

Women break records

The women’s swimming and diving team took advantage of competing in its home pool as well, finishing 13th and setting eight school records in the process.

Co-head coach Terry Nieszner said the team wanted to get in the top 20.

Sophomore Jenny Shaughnessy was the Gophers’ top performer, setting four school records individually.

Her records included a new time of 1:58.07 in the 200-yard backstroke; 1:58.96 in the 200-yard individually medley; 1:46.06 in the 200 free as a part of the 800-yard freestyle relay; and 49.84 for the 100-yard freestyle, leading off the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Shaughnessy said she was pleased with how she performed all weekend.

“It feels really good to be at home and take ownership,” she said.

Co-head coach Kelly Kremer said Minnesota’s solid showing at the NCAAs was a great way to end the season.

“It’s one of those meets that if you can get some season bests, you’re happy,” Kremer said. “To have our kids at their best where we are breaking eight school records and almost everyone is getting lifetime bests; we really hit it on the money.”