Women’s swimmers set to host NCAA Championships

by Jim Schortemeyer

As if the pressure of finals isn’t enough, Minnesota’s women’s swimming and diving team has to deal with the NCAA Championships, starting Thursday at the University Aquatic Center.
The Gophers are one of a few schools sending a double digit number of swimmers to the meet, and only five teams are sending more athletes than Minnesota.
Another fortuitous stat for the Gophers: They have swimmers in all but one individual event.
Results are mixed for the relay teams. The two medley relay teams (200- and 400-yard) are seeded in the top eight, but none of Minnesota’s freestyle relay teams were invited to compete.
Diver T.D. Rowe qualified Saturday for the national meet by taking third on the 3-meter platform at the NCAA Diving Zones in Oxford, Ohio. Rowe won the Big Ten Championship on the 1-meter and 3-meter last month.
Head coach Jean Freeman said she anticipates the most interesting races to be the breaststroke events, the 1650-yard freestyle and the medley relays. Both relay teams are seeded in the top eight.
One of Minnesota’s medley swimmers, freshman Katy Christoferson, said she is nervous and excited about the upcoming championships. Christoferson is one of three Big Ten champions from Minnesota.
“There are schools from all over the nation coming,” Christoferson said. “My personal goal is to swim good races in the prelims. That would be incredible.”
Christoferson, seeded 10th in the 400-yard individual medley, is one of two Minnesota swimmers seeded in the top 10. The other, not surprisingly, is Gretchen Hegener. Hegener is seeded fourth in both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke.
Hegener is the defending national champion in the 100, and has hopes of a top three finish in the 200 this year.
Athletes and coaches are also excited that the championships are in their home pool.
“Everyone’s excited that they’re here,” Christoferson said. “There’s going to be a lot of home-state support.”
“It’s like throwing a party,” said Freeman, adding that Minnesota has an advantage because, “We have the least number of adjustments to make.”