Slow-starting Hennen comes around for U

David La

Junior swimmer Jenny Hennen found herself atop three time lists this past weekend.
The No. 14 Gophers women’s swimming and diving team competed in the Quad Duals and was paced by the performance of Hennen, who won two individual events.
It was the latest in a number of lists she’s been on, though some have come with less than positive implications.
The first list Hennen found herself on was that of the NCAA clearinghouse’s ineligible-to-perform list. The dilemma, in short, was caused by a mix-up over accumulated credits on her first application for swimming eligibility.
After untangling this academic ball of string, Hennen went on to have a see-saw freshman year. Upside swimming, downside academics.
The accounting major next found herself on a list of students who wouldn’t be allowed to attend the Carlson School of Management.
“That was a real ego-deflater for her,” coach Jean Freeman said. “She was dumbfounded.”
To remedy the Carlson snub, Hennen enrolled in night classes, and her grades warranted a green light the ensuing quarter.
After a debut season that included a contribution to the Big Ten Champion 400-yard medley relay team, Hennen’s productivity dipped as a sophomore.
“After having such a successful freshman year, I wanted to train more,” Hennen said. “I started doing four doubles (training twice a day) a week, and it really burnt me out.”
Her performance in the regular season aside, Hennen rebounded with a team-high 79 points in the Big Tens, and placed 13th in the 200 butterfly at the NCAAs.
With everything seemingly in place, her junior year has seen Hennen’s abilities as a swimmer shine through.
“She seems to be having more fun this year,” assistant coach Terry Nieszner said. “Every time she’s in the water you know that she’s a force to be reckoned with.”
The roll-call of accomplishments this season shows Hennen’s penchant for swimming her best in the Gophers’ big meets. In November she placed third in the 100 butterfly at the Meet of Champions and won the 200 fly in the upset of No. 8 Nebraska, and two weeks ago she led Minnesota’s sweep of the 200 fly event in a losing effort at No. 12 Northwestern.
Freeman said she sees Hennen’s improved swimming performances as the byproduct of the intrinsical motivation she tries to encourage in her athletes.
“By your junior or senior year, at least under our type of program, you’re a much better, well-rounded person,” Freeman said.
Hennen and the Gophers women’s team will host the Minnesota Challenge this weekend at the Aquatic Center.
“We put it this weekend because it’s our last tuneup (for Big Tens),” Freeman said. “It also offers all the events.”
At the conclusion of the Minnesota Challenge, only the Big Ten Championships loom on the horizon. Hennen said she can hardly wait.
“We’ll be tapered, rested; it’s going to be here,” Hennen said. “We’ll be going all-out.”
Perhaps Hennen’s name will wind up on yet another list, this time as a Big Ten Champion.