U swimmers come back at NCAA meet

by Brian Stensaas

A mere four days ago, it looked as though the Minnesota women’s swimming and diving team traveled to Indiana to see the sights.
After day one of competition at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, the Gophers had just one point, thanks to Tracy LaVoi’s 16th-place finish on the 1-meter springboard.
And that one point was it.
The team did an about-face in the next two days, accumulating 43 points and finishing 23rd, one spot better than a year ago.
Georgia won its second-straight NCAA championship with 490.5 points, surviving a solid third-day attack by Arizona.
“I’m really happy with them,” coach Jean Freeman said of the six members who competed for Minnesota. “I really feel good about it, both in relays and individually.”
The Gophers’ crowning moment came on Friday in the 400 individual medley. Katy Christoferson, fresh off winning the Big Ten championship in the same event, finished eighth in Indianapolis, good for her first All-America honor and the only one for the Gophers this weekend.
“That was obviously the highlight,” Freeman said. “Both her qualifying time and her time in the finals were just excellent. That shows that she is the best in the 400 IM in our history.”
Two other individuals earned honorable-mention All-America honors on the weekend.
In her first NCAA meet, Kelsey Hegener finished 13th in the 100 breaststroke while Terri Jashinsky finished off her Gophers career by taking 15th in the 100 butterfly.
Jenny Hennen scored as a part of Minnesota’s 400 and 800 relays and the 200 medley relay, all of which finished with honorable-mention All-America honors. For the seniors, it was a fitting end to their careers.
“It was kind of sad at the end, knowing that our college swimming careers were over,” Hegener said. “But I think the way we ended it, it was good a good way to go out.”
Though Minnesota brought fewer members to this year’s championships, everyone who competed scored. The six combined to outscore last year’s core by nine points.
“It’s not a numbers game,” Freeman said. “Whoever you bring there has to do well. When you’re at (the NCAA meet), you have to rise to the top, and we did that.”
The NCAA championships were held in short-course meters, which brought a whole new splash to the swimming. The 25-meter pool opened the possibility of world records to fall. In one relay, California-Berkeley actually went under a world-record time, but not all members were from the same country, nullifying the right to officially break the record.
Also being held in short-course meters are this year’s senior nationals. Minnesota swimmers Andrea Simokova and Elizabeth Pierce will compete for the Gophers, while Freeman will use the trip to Federal Way, Wash., for recruiting purposes.

Brian Stensaas covers swimming and diving and welcomes comments at [email protected]