50 Minn. swimmers advance to finals in successful Minnesota Grand Prix

by Lindsay Guentzel

Sharing the pool with some of the nationâÄôs most-recognized talent âÄî though not Michael Phelps, who dropped out days before âÄî the Gophers made themselves memorable at the Minnesota Grand Prix, sending more than 50 swimmers (including 12 relay teams) into championship heats. During the three-day event sponsored by USA Swimming, 13 Gophers finished in the top three, including first-place finishes by both the menâÄôs and womenâÄôs 400-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard medley relay teams along with the womenâÄôs 800-yard freestyle relay team. âÄúThis weekend shows weâÄôre a team to contend with,âÄù senior Jillian Tyler said. âÄú[These events] always have great competition and itâÄôs always beneficial to see what the rest of the country is doing.âÄù Tyler had an exceptional weekend, taking first in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard breaststroke events and fourth in the 200-yard individual medley. âÄúThere were a lot of technical things that I can work on in my 200,âÄù said Tyler, who posted an event-best in the 100-yard breaststroke. âÄúBut itâÄôs nice to see where I am right now and to see how my work has been paying off, definitely sets up the rest of the season.âÄù Teammate junior Ashley Steenvoorden finished second in both the 500-yard freestyle and 1650-yard freestyle event âÄî coming in behind 18-year-old Olympian Chloe Sutton in both events. âÄúIâÄôve raced Chloe a lot over the last passed three years so IâÄôve kind of learned to swim my own race when IâÄôm swimming against her,âÄù Steenvoorden said. âÄúAnytime you dive in and swim against someone like Chloe âÄî with the Olympic credentials and the gold medals that sheâÄôs won âÄî itâÄôs always an honor. I always try to keep up with her if I can but more importantly swim my own race.âÄù While the Gophers made their presence known this weekend, the event headline went to 15-year-old Missy Franklin, a member of the Colorado Stars, who picked up the weekendâÄôs high-point award after taking first-place in seven events. Olympian Ryan Lochte took the award for the men, with a first-place finish over Minnesota alum David Plummer in the 100-yard backstroke.