U women’s swimmers mark up record books

Ryan Schuster

The Gophers women’s swimming and diving team is entering uncharted territory this weekend.
Minnesota jumped five places from 15th to 10th in the most recent Speedo America Top 25 Swimming Poll released Nov. 13. The top 10 ranking is the highest in school history.
The Gophers’ previous high was a No. 14 spot in the Feb. 22, 1995 coaches poll. That team finished second in the Big Ten and tied with Kentucky for 19th place at the 1995 NCAA Championships.
After facing No. 11 Nebraska Nov. 16, the Gophers should have an easier test at home this weekend. Wisconsin, ranked No. 21 in the nation is the only top 25 team Minnesota will face in the meet.
“I think the invite won’t be as competitive as it has been in past years,” senior Jessica Grass said. “Wisconsin will give us most of our competition.”
Coach Jean Freeman is just as confident that her team can come away with another convincing victory.
“I think we can win the invitational,” Freeman said. “It’s not really one of our goals, but I think it’s a reality.”
The other teams that will swim Friday through Sunday are Iowa State, Northern Michigan, North Dakota, Florida Atlantic, St. Olaf and Concordia.
Minnesota is 4-0 on the season, after a 186-114 dismantling of Nebraska at home last weekend. Junior Gretchen Hegener had her second NCAA automatic qualifying time of the year in the 100-yard breaststroke and also had an NCAA consideration time in the 200 breaststroke. Jenny Hennen, a freshman from Anoka, won three freestyle events all in NCAA consideration times. Olga Splichalova and Tanya Schuh both were double event winners.
This year’s squad consists of 15 seniors, including four All-Americans, pointing to a good chance of yet another top 20 national finish.
“I think were going to have a good finish,” Freeman said. “When you can beat a team that was 10th last year you can feel your improvement.”
For the first time this season Minnesota will be able to swim in an invitation-type meet with more than two teams.
“We’ll be able to swim the same meet format as Big Tens,” Freeman said. “It gives you a better feeling of what you’re going to be up against.”