Women’s swimming team takes first place at quad meet

Jim Schortemeyer

It was an interesting weekend for Minnesota’s women’s swimmers and divers. Pool records were set, meet records were swum — and freak accidents occurred. Along the way, Minnesota beat Illinois by a margin of 200.5-141.5, Wisconsin 210-142, and Purdue 202.5-135.5 in a quad meet.
Perhaps women’s head coach Jean Freeman summed up the team’s swimming best.
“We won from the get-go,” she said.
The 200-yard medley relay team provided a jump-start for Minnesota, winning against all three teams in the first event of the meet. That was expected. What was surprising, however was that the Gophers’ “B” team nearly beat Wisconsin’s “A” team for second place.
A surprise of an entirely different sort had come just before the start of the meet. In a sport where injuries are as common as Miles Tarver quotes, Minnesota lost a key freshman to a bizarre accident.
Katy Christoferson slipped into the pool during warm-ups, and hit her head on the bottom of the pool. She was taken to the emergency room for stitches, and the situation could have thrown the team into disarray.
Fortunately for Minnesota, the incident was not an omen of things to come.
“Everybody just got together, and talked about concentrating on the races,” said senior captain Olga Splichalova.
The Gophers wanted to avoid a let-down after a tight meet last week with seventh-ranked Nebraska.
Splichalova led by example, setting a pool record in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:53.95. Senior captain Gretchen Hegener also set a pool record in the 200 breaststroke, and freshman Jaina McClure set a meet record in the 100 backstroke.
It was also a solid weekend for the divers. T.D. Rowe recovered nicely from last weekend’s disappointing third- and fourth-place finishes with victories over all teams in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events.
Minnesota is currently ranked 10th in the nation. Like the men’s team, the Gophers trail only one Big Ten team — Michigan — in the polls.
The Gophers’ last meet before the Big Ten Championships (Feb. 19-21) is the Minnesota Challenge next weekend at the Aquatic Center.