Women’s swimmers tryto continue hot streak

by Ryan Schuster

The No. 10 Gophers women’s swimming and diving team will face it’s toughest test to date this weekend when it goes against No. 11 Nebraska on Saturday night at the University Aquatic Center.
After winning its first three dual meets of the season, including one against No. 23 Penn State, Coach Jean Freeman said the Gophers are ready for the challenge.
“The team is confident enough now that we’re really going to go after them,” she said.
The Cornhuskers come in at 1-0 after a season-opening 175-125 defeat of Colorado State in a non-conference clash two weeks ago.
Last year at the NCAA Championships, Nebraska finished 10th with 167 points, while the Gophers were 15th with 66 points. The Cornhuskers were also ranked three places ahead of Minnesota in the Speedo America Top 25 College Swimming Preseason Poll.
The tide appears to have turned this season, though, sending the Gopher’s swimming program into uncharted waters in the upper echelon of the nation’s elite. Minnesota surged ahead of the Huskers in the polls this week after wins over No. 16 North Carolina, unranked Iowa State and No. 23 Penn State.
Minnesota’s top 10 national ranking in Tuesday’s college coaches poll is the highest in the history of the women’s program. Freeman said the Gophers will come in pumped up from their early season success and will be ready to knock off Nebraska.
“Winning is always a good goal,” senior Jessica Smith said. “I think we’ve got the ability on our team. It will be a good meet.”
In only three meets so far this year, Minnesota has already had one NCAA meet automatic-qualifying time, five consideration times and six zone diving qualifying times.
The divers who qualify in their zone are invited to a regional meet where they compete for a chance to go to nationals. This year, the Gophers athletes who qualify will dive at the Aquatic Center.
Carrie Hansen, Andrea Berg and Jenny Cook have all locked up qualifying scores in both the 1- and 3-meter diving events.
Junior Gretchen Hegener has already swam to an NCAA automatic-qualifying time in the 100-yard breaststroke, and received an NCAA consideration time in the 200 breaststroke.
Other NCAA consideration times were turned in by swimmers Tanya Schuh and Terry Jashinsky in the 100 butterfly, Jenny Hennen in the 200 freestyle and Olga Spichalova in the 500 freestyle.
The Gophers hope they can carry over some of these fast times to Nebraska.
“I think were going to do really well,” Hegener said. “Hopefully this meet will be a lot of fun for all of us. I have a feeling we’ll come out with a win.”