Women finish 11th at NCAA championships

The team fell two spots from last year’s ninth place.

Megan Ryan

 

Minnesota’s women’s swimming and diving team had a goal to make the top 10 and improve on last year’s ninth-place finish.

The team fell just short of its goal with 131 points and an 11th-place finish at the NCAA championships in Auburn, Ala., Thursday through Saturday.

The University of California-Berkeley and Georgia continued their one-two dominance of the podium from last season with 412.5 and 366 points, respectively.

“I’m really pleased with how this season ended,” head men’s and women’s coach Kelly Kremer said.

While Minnesota didn’t have any national champions, four of its five relay teams scored points, and the team had 24 All-American honors.

Haley Spencer was one of three national champions on last year’s team and the only one to return this season.

The junior aimed to retain her title in the 200-yard breaststroke and add a 100 breaststroke trophy as well. Spencer’s meet did not go quite according to plan.

“Obviously, there’s a little more pressure once you’ve done it to repeat, and I think she was carrying that on her back for the entire year,” head women’s coach Terry Nieszner said.

Spencer finished 21st in the 100 breaststroke and missed the final by five places. She bounced back from that disappointment in the 200 breaststroke by finishing second overall at two minutes, 7.24 seconds.

“I went into it wanting to go a certain time. Unfortunately, I didn’t hit that time, but you have bad meets sometimes, and this was one of them for me,” Spencer said. “I didn’t go quite as fast as I wanted to go, so now I am refocusing and getting ready for Olympic trials.”

Minnesota’s 13-member NCAA team will lose only two seniors: Ashley Steenvoorden and Hannah Whitehead.

Steenvoorden placed fourth in the 1,650 freestyle with a time of 15:44.56, a Big Ten conference and school record. She also placed sixth in the 500 freestyle. Her 800 freestyle relay team along with Jessica Plant, Tori Simenec and Lauren Weis finished fifth with another school record time of 7:00.65.

The other successful relays were the 400 and 200 medley relay team of Tess Behrens, Spencer, Rebecca Weiland and Erin Caflisch.

The 400 relay team finished 12th, and the 200 relay team finished 13th. The 400 freestyle relay team of Plant, Caflisch, Simenec and Behrens finished in 10th place.

Behrens also placed 14th in the 200 backstroke.

 In diving, Maggie Keefer scored team points in all events. The sophomore finished fifth in one-meter springboard diving with 332.40 points. She also placed 12th and 15th in three-meter and platform, respectively.