Women’s swimmers shake rust

Jim Schortemeyer

The Gophers women’s swimming and diving team ended a one-and-a-half-month hiatus from competition Saturday by steamrolling the competition at the Gold Country Invitational. The final tally had Minnesota scoring 1099.5 points over second-place Wheaton college, which ended the day with 323 points.
Although the team looked rusty in practice, coach Jean Freeman saw few problems in the meet.
“They’re racing a lot better than their workouts showed,” said Freeman. “It’s taken this whole week to get back in the swing of things.”
The overall competitive strength of the field was no different from the men’s meet. The women’s meet featured most of the teams in the men’s meet, with the addition of St. Catherine’s, Moorhead State and St. Benedict. The Gophers were the only Division I school to compete.
Although the meet was devoid of fast times, junior diver T.D. Rowe provided an exciting result, scoring 572 points on the 3-meter. Her score obliterated the former record of 528 points, set in 1993 by Laurie Nelson. Rowe was obviously pleased with her effort, but not to the point of elation.
“You can always do better,” she said.
This weekend featured a grab-bag assortment of swimmers. Many swimmers were swimming events they normally wouldn’t. Senior Olga Splichalova, a distance specialist, swam in the breaststroke and the individual medley. Interestingly, she did well in the 200-yard breaststroke, winning her heat.
“Next weekend, we’ll be swimming our best swimmers against Penn State,” captain Shona Baillie said.
On a day with few standout performances, Katy Christofferson provided many points for the Gophers. Christofferson won the 100-yard breast stroke, 400 individual medley and the 100 freestyle. She and the rest of the swimmers were clearly happy just to get back into competition.
“It’s nice to see where we are after the training trip,” Christofferson said.
Other winning swimmers include Terri Jashinsky, Ann Cahoy, Jenny Hennen and Andrea Simakova.
The ninth-ranked Gophers are now into the difficult part of their schedule. They will be tested on the road for the next month, with an important challenge coming in three weeks at the Quad Dual. The meet will feature Big Ten rivals Illinois, Wisconsin and Purdue, teams that should provide much stronger competition for the Gophers. Their next meet is next weekend, when they travel to Penn State.