Minnesota ready for Big Ten meet

The Gophers are trying for a three-peat at the Big Ten championships.

Minnesotas Kiera Janzen competes at the 2013 Arena Grand Prix Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.

Daily File Photo, Lisa Persson

Minnesota’s Kiera Janzen competes at the 2013 Arena Grand Prix Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.

by David Nelson

The University Aquatic Center’s ambiance at a meet rarely changes — waves splash, buzzers sound and coaches scream to alert their swimmers.

It’ll be the same Wednesday night at the Big Ten championships — everything will just be noisier.

“It’s loud,” junior Kiera Janzen said. “It’s definitely unlike any other meet around.”

For the second year in a row, fans from all across the Big Ten will pack the University Aquatic Center for the conference meet.

And having the luxury of swimming and diving in their own pool and well has members of the women’s team pumped up.

“I’m really excited, especially because it’s my senior year,” senior Erin Caflisch said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to swim anywhere else.”

Janzen said she’s confident with where the team is at right now.

While the rosters contained many new faces at the beginning of the year, junior Tori Simenec said the closeness of the team has helped it stay successful up to this point.

“This team really seems to click,” Simenec said. “That’s really helpful when you’re going into competition.”

The fresh faces on the women’s team contributed immediately this season, and Kremer said he expects big things out of them.

“They’ve been such great racers,” head coach Kelly Kremer said. “Though they’re young in college, they’re experienced swimmers.”

For Caflisch, this is her final Big Ten meet of her career.

Her success at the conference meet last season as a member of four winning relay teams helped the Gophers claim the trophy for a second consecutive year.

She said she hopes to repeat her success this time around.

“I think for all of us to shoot for that again would be definitely reasonable,” Caflisch said. “I think we’ve put in the training to do it.”

While replicating success is something senior diver Maggie Keefer hopes to do as well, she said she doesn’t have any goals for herself.

“I just go in knowing that I’ve put all this training and hard work into everything,” Keefer said. “[And] hopefully, all of this training will make me successful.”

Keefer won the 1- and 3-meter diving events last season and won Big Ten Diver of the Championships.

Kremer said the competitiveness of the Big Ten meet is exciting because he will get to watch his athletes vie against some of the nation’s best.

“That’s what’s fun about the Big Ten,” Kremer said. “I know Indiana and us have been one [and] two for a number of years.

“It just takes having a good meet to put any number of teams up there. I know everybody wants the same thing.”

Kremer said the key to a three-peat this season will be focusing on the fundamentals the team has worked on all season.

“If they do that, I know they’ll have a successful outing,” he said.

Now that 138 days have passed since the first meet of the season against Arizona State, Caflisch said she and her teammates are ready to put their hard work to the test.

“I think we’ve definitely put in the work this season to have a great meet,” Caflisch said. “I’m excited to see what happens.”