Swimming opens this weekend

by Lindsay Guentzel

The womenâÄôs swimming and diving team open up the season this Friday and head coaches Kelly Kremer and Terry Nieszner couldnâÄôt be more optimistic. âÄú[The pre-seasonâÄôs] gone as smooth as it can,âÄú head coach Kelly Kremer said. âÄúThe team is doing a great job of doing whatever they need to do in and out of the pool to make sure they are ready to compete.âÄù Nieszner added: âÄúWe are very excited to get started. WeâÄôve had a great start to the year training-wise and definitely looking forward to competing.âÄù The Gophers kick things off on the road at Michigan, a team with a strong history of success in the Big Ten. âÄúMichigan is always very competitive, very well-respected in the Big Ten and nationally, so a great way to start off the season,âÄù Nieszner said. âÄúDefinitely a very competitive rivalry but a friendly one so it makes it a nice way to start off the season.âÄù The Wolverines finished right behind the 2nd place Gophers in last yearâÄôs Big Ten championshipâÄînotching a 15th place finish at the NCAA championship in March. âÄúWe are a deep conference,âÄù Kremer said. âÄúEveryone seems to have a really strong team. There is little margin for error when you swim or dive in the Big Ten.âÄù The GophersâÄîwho finished at No. 12 last yearâÄîare returning all 13 women from last yearâÄôs NCAA squad, something that will largely benefit the team, Kremer said. âÄúWhen you look at that, thatâÄôs a lot of quality,âÄù he said. âÄúThere is lots of leadership athletically to go around.âÄù Junior Kelci Bryant brought home a national title in the 3-meter diving event last year, while freshman Haley Spencer and junior Ashley Steenvoorden both earned All-America honors for their performances at the NCAA championships. It was the second accolade for Steenvoorden. But even with last yearâÄôs success, the Gophers are making sure they put all of their focus on the season ahead. âÄúTop to bottom, we are as deep as weâÄôve ever been,âÄù Kremer said. âÄúThey want to compete for a Big Ten title and they want to put themselves inside the top-10 in the country. Both are realistic goals.âÄù