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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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The Minnesota Daily

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Minnesota hosts 2007 Big Ten Championships this week

The championship season for the Minnesota women’s swimming and diving team has finally arrived and after the last-minute preparations of shaving legs and fitting into the smallest swimsuit, the Gophers are ready to take on the competition.

Minnesota will host the Big Ten Championships on Thursday through Saturday at the University Aquatic Center, the fifth time the meet has been in the Twin Cities since 1991.

Coach Kelly Kremer said he is excited to host the event because the Gophers will probably have the biggest crowd at the meet. Being in familiar surroundings will also give the women a chance to perform at their best, he said.

Minnesota finished second at last year’s competition, but Kremer thinks this year the Gophers will be battling Purdue, Northwestern and Ohio State for fifth place.

“Any time you’re competing in a championship meet, you’re competing to win it,” Kremer said, “but realistically winning a Big Ten championship title for us this year would take some extraordinary circumstances.”

The Minnesota coaches have prepared the women for this weekend by giving them a lot of rest and working on the basic aspects of swimming such as starts, turns and relay exchanges. Kremer said that those things matter most when it comes to a meet that is decided by such close margins of time.

According to coach Terry Nieszner, the Gophers’ philosophy for the event is to focus only on the things they can control. Because no one can do anything about the other team’s performances, Nieszner said she just wants the women to concentrate on their abilities, not their competitors.

Senior Jenny Hasling said although the women do have some pretty high personal goals, such as best times and breaking school records, she said the team just needs to focus on what it can do.

“This is a sport that you can’t control what the other teams do so it’s hard to make place goals,” Hasling said. “We can only control what we do and hopefully it fits in the places we want it to fit in.”

Regardless of how they place, Hasling said the Gophers are excited for this weekend and Minnesota’s training and performances this season mean extra confidence for this meet.

The overall team energy and chemistry is another thing Hasling said will benefit the Gophers.

“We’re kind of all on the same page to just have a lot of fun and enjoy ourselves,” Hasling said. “And with that comes fast swimming.”

Besides fun and excitement, this weekend’s meet also brings a lot of pressure and expectation because the Big Ten Championship meet is the last opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships in March.

Because of this, most of the women have shaved and will wear their fastest suit to qualify, or at least swim a personal best, Kremer said.

Some of the Gophers who expect to, or already have qualified for NCAA Championships will not be shaved though, which Kremer said will make it more difficult to compete with those who are.

Even though this weekend’s meet has a lot of pressure on personal performance, Nieszner said team support and unity is what this meet is all about.

“It’s good that the women know when they’re out there that it’s not just them individually,” Nieszner said, “but that the whole team is behind them.”

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