Swim coach keeping up on Gophers’ NCAA chances

by David La

There is just no rest for Gophers women’s swimming coach Jean Freeman.
While remnants of the Big Ten title victory still loom around the Aquatic Center Tuesday — specifically the leader board that “isn’t coming down anytime soon,” according to Freeman — the swimmers were involved in practice as usual.
The season might have reached its pinnacle with the Big Ten win, but with NCAA competition coming up, it’s far from over. The question is now how many Gophers swimmers will participate at this elite meet.
Two guaranteed representatives will be juniors Jenny Hennen (100-butterfly) and Terri Jashinsky (200-fly), each of whom swam NCAA automatic qualifying times during the Big Ten championships.
Other Minnesota swimmers have posted NCAA consideration times, meaning they are in unless an outbreak of superior times pushes them out. Generally speaking, the relay events allow for 12 teams, while the individual events allow for approximately two dozen athletes.
The list of confirmed NCAA qualifiers will be available Thursday, but Freeman has already taken on a role similar to that of a fantasy football team owner, consulting the Internet for the latest information and contemplating the numerous scenarios ahead of time.
“I’ve been on the Internet like crazy this weekend,” said Freeman.
What she has begun to deduce is that some of her athletes are going to make the cut, while some might be headed for a near-miss.
“Beth Shimanski’s 100-back time is hanging in there, so I think she’ll get in,” Freeman said. “Jinny Smedstad’s time in the 500-free is holding up real well, also.”
“Katy Christoferson’s 400 (individual medley) is holding up, and any other year her 200 (IM) would have been in there,” Freeman said. “But there was a rash of new 200 times. She didn’t get in the top 25.”
In any event, Freeman has done her best to ready any potential candidates for the NCAAs.
“It’s hard to keep training, not knowing if you’re a reality at the meet,” Freeman said. “But I say everybody who made the time that got in last year, train as if you’re in the meet.”