Gophers women’s swimmers win twice

Ryan Schuster

It doesn’t seem to matter who the women’s swimming and diving team puts in the pool — they all seem to come in first.
Despite holding out several of their top swimmers Friday night in Ames, Iowa, the Gophers defeated Iowa State 152-145 behind some unheralded performers. Even though No. 15 Minnesota was without their top three or four competitors in each category, they still took first in nine of the 16 events.
“I think that just says that we have a strong team and that there’s a lot of depth,” senior diver Andrea Berg said. “Were pretty solid overall.”
The return of the Gophers’ top swimmers the next day led to a more one-sided meet.
After tying with No. 23 Penn State last year, conventional wisdom pointed to a hard-fought contest in the first Big Ten meet for both teams.
So much for conventional wisdom.
The Gophers blew out the Lions 177-118 Saturday at the University Aquatic Center. Minnesota swam to first-place finishes in 75 percent of the events, leading to the unexpectedly lopsided score.
The most important statistic for the Gophers women this weekend was not who they beat or by how many points, but that they came away with two more wins.
“We are very excited,” Berg said. “It’s real nice to start off our season this way, especially since we were up against two good teams.”
As a result of the two victories, Minnesota is now 3-0 on the season and undefeated at 1-0 in the Big Ten.
Gophers coach Jean Freeman was quick to give credit to her swimmers for the two good performances.
“I think starting out with our medley relay to get first and second in two big meets in a row was a great lift for the team.”
The Gopher’s 200-yard medley relay teams took first and third at Iowa State and swept the first two places against Penn State. Minnesota’s medley relay teams are currently ranked first in the nation, after taking first place in all three races this season.
The Gophers women divers have won five of the six events that they’ve competed in this season.
Senior Carrie Hansen placed first in the 3-meter springboard twice in two attempts and also had a first and second-place finish in the 1-meter event.
Without Hansen competing on Friday, the diving team didn’t miss a beat as senior Jenny Cook filled in and won both diving competitions.
“The divers have been much better this year than they were last year, Freeman said. “They’re certainly appreciated by the other swimmers.”
Pacing the Gophers’ swimmers was freshman Amy Cottrill, who won an event in each meet. She took first in the 100 backstroke Friday and the 50 freestyle on Saturday.
Other two-event winners for Minnesota on Friday included senior tri-captain Elizabeth Weld and sophomore Beth Shimanski. Weld took first in the 500 and 1,000 freestyle events and Shimanski captured the 200 backstroke title, as well as swimming the first leg of the victorious 200 medley relay squad for Minnesota.
The Gophers will put their undefeated record on the line next weekend at the Aquatic Center against No. 12 Nebraska.
This time, however, Minnesota will have its top finishers in every event.