Gophers finish fourth at women’s Big Ten Championships

Danielle Nack won six silver medals

Senior Danielle Nack competes in the women's 100 yard butterfly at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatics Center on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Jack Rodgers, Daily File Photo

Senior Danielle Nack competes in the women’s 100 yard butterfly at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatics Center on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Erik Nelson

Senior Danielle Nack didn’t have the results she wanted at past Big Ten Championships.

This year was different.

Nack won six silver medals in the conference’s postseason. She earned a second place finish in the 200-meter butterfly. Nack qualified for the 50-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships in March.

Minnesota finished fourth in this year’s Big Ten Tournament from McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio.

“We had a ton of energy, the most energy out of all of the teams in the Big Ten,” Nack said. “I would look over at the bench and see all the maroon and gold and all the energy. It got me pumped up.”

Nack and sophomore Lindsey Kozelsky each won a silver medal on Saturday. Nack won silver in the 200-yard butterfly, finishing in 1:54.72. Nack’s time set both a program record and a personal record. Kozelsky won the bronze medal in the 200-yard breaststroke, finishing in 2:07.37. Kozelsky’s time also broke both personal and school records.

Nack said it’s important to recover physically and mentally in order to do well during championship season.

“The schedule [at the Big Ten Championships] is not easy,” Nack said. “If you’re able to swim fast, you’re able to recover well.”

On Wednesday, the first day of competition, Minnesota (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) had two second-place finishes. A team of  Nack, Zoe Avestruz, Kozelsky and Tevyn Waddell earned the silver medal in the 200-yard medley relay. The team finished in 1:35.06. Indiana won the gold medal, finishing in 1:34.16. 

Minnesota also finished in second in the 800-yard freestyle relay. The team of Danielle Nack, Chantal Nack, Avestruz and Mackenzie Padington finished in 6:59.53. That time set a school record. 

On the diving board, sophomore Sarah Bacon won Minnesota’s only gold medal. Bacon earned gold in the one-meter dive on Thursday, receiving a score of 353.80. That score broke her personal record.

Minnesota finished in fourth place with 1,049 points. Head coach Kelly Kremer said the team had a great weekend at the Big Ten Championships. 

“We shattered our relay records. It takes a lot of quality and a lot of depth to be great at the relays,” Kremer said. “We had some stellar individual performances on the board and in the swimming pool.”

After the last event on Saturday, Minnesota swimmers won multiple Big Ten awards. Bacon was named to the All-Big Ten First Team and was named Co-Diver of the Championships. Avestruz, Kozelsky, Padington, Waddell, and both Nack sisters were named to the All-Big Ten Second Team. Junior Kaia Grobe won the Sportsmanship Award.

Danielle Nack said she will need a few days to realize that this weekend was the last Big Ten Championship of her career.

“I couldn’t have been happier with the way I swam,” she said. “I gave it my all for the team. I’m happy to be a Gopher.”

The NCAA Championships will be in Columbus March 14-17. Kremer said the team is in high spirits as it prepares for next month’s nationals.

“They feel proud of themselves and proud of the team they’ve become,” Kremer said. “Being a fourth-place team in this conference sets you up for success at the next level.”