Swimming and diving takes on top competition this weekend at the Minnesota Grand Prix meet

The Gophers hope to remain competitive as they faceoff against USA elites.

by Nick Gerhardt

Minnesota’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will take to the pool this weekend against some of the nation’s finest swimmers as they host the Minnesota Grand Prix meet.

It will be the first time USA Swimming has held an event on this campus and will serve as a tremendous opportunity for the Gophers to see where they stack up against the U.S. national team.

U.S. Olympians Kara Lynn Joyce, Klete Keller, Ryan Lochte, Kaitlin Sandeno, Scott Usher and Peter Vanderkaay will participate in the three-day meet.

Coach Dennis Dale said he thought the opportunity to host the event would be a good idea for his team, as they would learn what it’s like to go against the best in the country.

“I don’t expect us to win a lot of events, but I do expect us to have some swimmers in the finals,” Dale said.

This meet differs from most meets during the season for Minnesota because the meet won’t affect its record, but it will help prepare them for the rest of the season.

“There’s no comparison to what we race against (at the Grand Prix meet), we’re racing against post graduates and 2004 Olympic athletes,” Dale said. “This meet will prepare us better for the Big Ten championship meet and NCAA than any of our other meets.”

Women honored again

Junior Jenny Shaughnessy took home Big Ten Swimmer of the Week after her performance against North Carolina.

Shaughnessy became the second Minnesota swimmer to earn the honor this season. She swam in four events and won three of them on the weekend.

She won the 200- and 400-yard individual medleys and the 200 freestyle and set season best marks in each event.

“She’s one that swam fast in the end and throughout the season she’s been tired and a little broken down,” coach Terry Nieszner said. “Now she’s adjusted to that and been able to swim fast when she’s tired.”

Shaughnessy and the rest of the team will swim in the Minnesota Grand Prix meet against members of the U.S. national team.

“It’s always fun to have a big event here,” Nieszner said. “It’s exciting for us to have that caliber of swimmer in our facility. It’s good experience for our kids.”

While the event doesn’t count toward their season record the event will give the Gophers a glimpse of the best competition in the country.