Women tie Indiana on first Big Ten day

Minnesota’s 200-yard medley relay set a school record.

Nate Gotlieb

There are six Big Ten women’s swimming and diving programs ranked in the top 25, but Minnesota and Indiana showed Wednesday night that the battle for this year’s Big Ten championship is a two-team race.

The No. 12 Gophers and No. 13 Indiana, who have combined to win the last six Big Ten championships, each won one event Wednesday and are tied for the lead at 74 points after day one of the 2013 Big Ten championships.

Penn State has 58 points, and Michigan and Ohio State are tied with 56 points.

In front of an energized crowd at the University Aquatic Center, the Gophers won the 200-yard medley relay, coming from behind in the final 50 yards to win the first event of the championships.

The Gophers’ 200 medley relay team trailed Indiana heading into the final 50 yards, but junior Erin Caflisch’s strong final leg gave the Gophers the victory.

Caflisch swam the final 50 yards in 21.69 seconds, helping her relay team to the victory and a school record.

“I’m not surprised by it,” head women’s coach Terry Nieszner said of Caflisch’s swim. “She’s been performing all year, working hard, doing exactly what she should be doing to go fast.”

The Gophers took second in the 800 freestyle relay and this time were unable to overtake Indiana in the final moments of the race.

Minnesota trailed Indiana by more than three seconds entering the final 200 yards of the relay. Indiana held on despite a charge from sophomore Kiera Janzen on the last leg.

The second day of the championships kick off at 11 a.m. on Thursday with the preliminary rounds of the 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle and 1-meter dive. The finals for those events will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The 1-meter dive will be the first event of the competition for Minnesota’s diving corps and junior diver Maggie Keefer, who earned Big Ten Diver of the Championships honors last year.

Keefer and teammate Katie Grunawalt won the 3-meter synchronized diving exhibition Wednesday.

The Gophers won the 2012 Big Ten championships, knocking off three-time defending champion Indiana. They went 10-0 in dual meets this season.

The championships run through Saturday night at the University Aquatic Center.