Women take 10th at NCAA championships

The Gophers had second-place finishers in the 200-yard breaststroke and 1-meter diving.

Haley Spencer swims the women's 100-yard breaststroke Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at the University Aquatic Center.

Emily Dunker

Haley Spencer swims the women’s 100-yard breaststroke Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at the University Aquatic Center.

Nate Gotlieb

The Gophers women’s swimming and diving team capped one of its best seasons ever Saturday with a 10th-place finish at the NCAA championships at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis.

The top-10 finish was the third in program history and the first since 2011. Twelve Minnesota swimmers and divers earned All-America honors during the weekend.

“Just being top-10 at the NCAA [championships] is an accomplishment that not a lot of people get to do,” senior captain Haley Spencer said.

Georgia won its fifth NCAA championship, accruing 477 team points. Two-time defending champion California (393 points), Tennessee (325.5), Texas A&M (323.5) and Arizona (311) rounded out the top five.

Minnesota (141 points) was the top Big Ten finisher, followed by Indiana (115), Wisconsin (65) and Purdue (44).

The Gophers came out flat early in the championships, struggling in both relay and individual events, head coach Kelly Kremer said.

Still, the Gophers finished the first day of the championships in 10th place, due in large part to junior diver Maggie Keefer’s second-place finish in 1-meter diving.

Keefer had another strong showing Friday, finishing sixth in 3-meter diving despite a low score on her third dive of the event.

“I knew from the take-off that it wasn’t going to end up so well,” Keefer said of the dive. “I was a little disappointed, but it didn’t really affect the rest of my performance.”

Spencer capped her Minnesota career with an 11th-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke Friday and a second-place finish in the 200 breaststroke Saturday.

Spencer was in seventh place heading into the final 50 yards, but a strong final lap propelled her into second.

“It’s nothing new for me,” she said. “It’s the way I swim.”

While no other Minnesota swimmer or diver besides Spencer and Keefer cracked the top five in an event, many made modest
contributions.

Sophomore distance swimmer Kiera Janzen took 15th in the 500 freestyle Thursday and 11th in the 1,650 freestyle Saturday, despite battling illness throughout the championships.

“I wasn’t sure really how her mile [1,650 freestyle] would go,” Kremer said. “I think physically she wasn’t 100 percent, and she sure toughed one out. She was as tough as you can be.”

Sophomore Becca Weiland finished 12th in the 100 butterfly, and junior Sarah McCrady took 16th in platform diving.

The Gophers were also relatively successful in relay events. Minnesota’s 200, 400 and 800 freestyle relay teams took 13th, eighth and ninth, respectively, and its 200 and 400 medley relay teams took 11th and 10th, respectively.