Minnesota in sixth after day two of Big Ten meet

Kent Erdahl

Minnesota’s women’s swimming and diving team broke an 18-year-old school record twice during Thursday’s Big Ten Championships at the University Aquatic Center, an impressive feat considering it was accomplished by only one swimmer.

Katy Coombe first broke the school record in the 50-yard freestyle by one one-hundredth of a second in Thursday morning’s preliminaries, clocking a 22.96.

Coombe then broke her own record with a time of 22.94 in the first leg of the Gophers’ 200-yard freestyle relay finals, which propelled the team to a new relay record of their own with a time of 1:32.01.

“That was double dipping we say,” Gophers coach Jean Freeman said. “She set the varsity record at the beginning and then the whole team set one. That was very nice.”

Although the relay team set a record, it only managed a fifth-place finish, earning the team 28 points.

“I couldn’t believe you could go that fast and still be fifth,” Freeman said.

After the second day of competition, Minnesota sits in sixth place with 149 points.

Michigan leads with 213 points, followed by Wisconsin (199), Indiana (187), Penn State (186) and Purdue (158) rounding out the top-five.

After Kate Hardt, Juleen Rodakowski, and Jenny Hasling added a combined 11 team points with solid finishes in the 500-yard freestyle, 200 IM and 50 freestyle, respectively, Coombe had one more chance to break her new school record in the finals of the 50 freestyle.

Coombe fell just short, finishing second to Indiana’s Meghan Medendorp, but still earned a valuable 17 points for Minnesota.

“I knew about the record, but I didn’t think I’d get it,” Coombe said. “I was only 3-years-old when it was set. I was really excited.”

Minnesota fell to sixth place after the swimming portion, trailing Purdue by 21 points, but the Gophers’ divers gave the team one final boost at the end of the night.

Shannon Jackson placed fifth in the 1-meter diving finals with a top score of 282.50, and Abbie Bowden placed seventh with a mark of 269.20.

The two divers added a combined 26 points, and the Gophers ended the night only nine points behind the Boilermakers.

Although Minnesota remained in sixth, Freeman was happy with the performance.

“It was Purdue’s best day,” she said. “We knew they would be ahead of us, but now we hope to close in and pass them this weekend.”