Women stomp Kansas in preparation for conference play

Minnesota improved to 3-0 on the season with a 179-119 win.

Andrew Krammer

The Gophers women’s swimming and diving team — which won the Big Ten last season — was in championship form Saturday against Kansas.

Freshman Kierra Smith led Minnesota to a 179-119 victory at Robinson Natatorium in Lawrence, Kan., with her first-place finishes in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke.

Smith’s time of 2:14.54 set a meet record for Minnesota in her 200-yard breaststroke heat. Smith also swam the second leg in the top-finishing 200-yard medley relay team.

“I was a little nervous,” Smith said. “But we all swam so well. We’re gaining confidence every week.”

Traveling without the men’s team, the Minnesota women (3-0) followed up their dominant win over Iowa State last week by claiming top spots in 12 of the 16 events against Kansas (1-1).

Gophers senior Annalise Colton finished first in her only two individual races of the day. She swam the 100-yard butterfly in 56.50 and the 200-yard butterfly in 2:03.41.

Freshman Lauren Votava continued Minnesota’s dominance by setting a meet record with her first-place finish and time of 23.48 in the 50-yard freestyle.

“We had a lot of people step up, which is going to be important for us down the road when we get into close meets,” head men’s and women’s coach Kelly Kremer said.

Men’s and women’s diving coach Wenbo Chen echoed the sentiment and said Saturday’s meet was more “of a practice” for his divers.

“We knew going in that [Kansas’] divers weren’t very strong,” Chen said.

It showed, as Minnesota flexed its championship muscle on the boards, winning all three top spots in the 1- and 3-meter dives.

Junior Sarah McCrady set a meet record of 322.92 to take first-place in the 3-meter. Junior Maggie Keefer (306.92) and senior Katie Grunawalt (298.12) rounded out the top-three spots.

McCrady and Keefer swapped places in the 1-meter dive to dismantle Kansas during its annual Senior Day. Keefer placed first, McCrady second and Grunawalt third.

“It was a real team effort,” Kremer said. “That’s what we’re going to need to be successful in the Big Ten.”

Minnesota will play Wisconsin at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center on Oct. 26 for the Gophers’ Senior Day.

Despite facing conference opponents, Chen said he doesn’t expect too much competition for his divers in the coming weeks.

“I don’t think the Wisconsin divers, or even next week against the Iowa divers, will give us that much push,” Chen said.