First day of Big Ten swim meet complete; Minnesota tied with two for fourth place

An elaborate opening ceremony featured smoke rising off the pool at the Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships that began Wednesday night at the University Aquatic Center.

The smoke cleared before the start of the first event, but the swimmers kept things hot by burning some old records.

The 200-yard medley relay was the first of two events that featured two new benchmarks and a near-broken school record for the Gophers women.

Penn State won the first event with a Big Ten-record time of 1:39.22, but Minnesota earned a quick 30 team points with a solid fourth-place finish at 1:41.79.

The Gophers missed a program record by two-tenths of a second, but coach Jean Freeman was pleased with the team’s fast time.

“When you get that close, you really want it,” Freeman said. “But it was the second-fastest (200-yard medley) relay ever swam at Minnesota.”

The team features three seniors, including Sarah Bohlsen, Melissa Schold and Megan Moore.

“Having the home advantage just makes the experience so much better,” Moore said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more as a senior.”

The other member of the team was Junior Katy Coombe, who swam the fastest anchor leg in the pool.

“I just saw all those other girls in front, and I really like to chase people down in the end,” Coombe said.

The second and final event of the night was the 800-yard freestyle relay.

Michigan blew past the rest of the field with an Aquatic Center pool-record time of 7:07.40.

The Gophers were seeded seventh going in to the event, but finished sixth with a season-best time of 7:19.14 and an important 26 team points.

After the first day of the four-day event, Michigan is in first with 74 points. They are followed by Wisconsin (66) and Penn State (64).

After two solid performances, Minnesota has 56 team points and is in a three-way tie for fourth place with Iowa and Purdue.

“We were really excited, and I think we’re going to feed off of this for the rest of the meet,” Coombe said.

Aquatic Center to host NCAA Championships

In an announcement made Wednesday, the NCAA Swimming and Diving Committee selected Minnesota to host the 2007 Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.

The Gophers will also host the Men’s Big Ten and NCAA Championships in 2005.

The 2007 championships will mark the seventh and eighth times in the last 14 years Minnesota has hosted the men’s or women’s championships.