U swimmer strives to

David La

The No. 13 Gophers women’s swimming and diving team squares off in a dual meet with No. 8 Nebraska and unranked Penn State on Saturday at the Aquatic Center. For junior butterflier Terri Jashinsky, Minnesota’s highest nationally ranked swimmer at No. 9, this meet is another opportunity to challenge her chief rival. Herself.
Unlike most self-motivators, Terri Jashinsky is not nagged by failure, but rather by enormous success. This success occurred in 1993, when she was selected Wisconsin’s High School Swimmer of the Year as a sophomore. Fueled by the high expectations the award put on her, she was a High School All-American in 1994 and 1995.
“I remember thinking, `Am I ever going to get any faster?,’ Jashinsky said. “`Am I ever going to start doing better again?'” The answer would be yes, although not without a little work.
Jashinsky was recruited by Gophers coach Jean Freeman, who sensed the freshman’s work ethic would lead to future success. Early on, however, Freeman got more than she bargained for.
“She was not a finesse swimmer, she kind of thrashed the water,” Freeman said. “She went until she was fatigued, and we almost had to throw her a life buoy.”
Teammate Jenny Hennen, who has trained daily with Jashinsky since their freshman year, understands younger swimmers’ go-’til-you-drop mentality.
“Coming in (to college), you think, `I’m going to swim so fast all the time,'” Hennen said. “But over the years, you learn how to train, as well as learning about your own body’s changes and how it affects your strokes.”
A new school, team and coach at Minnesota provided Jashinsky with a clean slate. She no longer felt the immense pressure to win, and as a result she began to flourish. As a freshman she was an All-American honorable mention in the 200- and 800-yard freestyle relays, and scored in three events at the Big Ten championships. It was a good start, but there was room for improvement — especially when you consider Jashinsky’s workaholic ways.
“She’s the type that always wants to work with the group that is doing the most,” Freeman said. “That is a huge plus, but it can also wipe a swimmer out.”
Jashinsky, who competes primarily in short- to mid-distance butterfly and freestyle events, benefited from Freeman’s idea to train not only for sprint events, but also with long distance swimmers. This mix helped Jashinsky’s stamina and patience improve, although the former came easier than the latter. She still had doubts about `tapering,’ which is a reduction of practice yardage and intensity to ensure an all-out effort can be given in meet competition.
“I can remember when it came time to taper during my freshman year,” Jashinsky said. “I just wanted to finally drop time again, and did at the Big Ten championships. I’ve always had a good attitude toward swimming, but that’s when I got back on focus.”
With a well-proportioned practice regimen in place to accompany her renewed focus, Jashinsky had a solid sophomore season. She again captured two All-American honorable mentions, this time in the butterfly leg of the 200 and 400 medley relay teams, which placed 10th and 11th, respectively. In addition, she scored in four Big Ten championship events.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s meet, the Gophers will be taking on a talented but shallow Penn State team and a very strong Nebraska team. A comparison of times this season finds Nebraska faster than Minnesota in all but a few events. Jashinsky will be competing in the 100 and 200 fly, as well as the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, and will be one to watch.
College has been a steady climb for Jashinsky, in contrast to her high school career when she came out in her second year and made a big splash, so to speak. But with her work ethic, coaching and desire, she may very well finish her college career like she did her 1993 season — on top.