Gophers swim teams stay undefeated

Ryan Schuster

Illinois women’s swimming coach Jim Lutz paraded around the pool deck, his face turning a bright red color from the loss of oxygen as he wildly cheered for his team. A handful of Illinois swimmers followed their coach’s lead and were almost as vocal.
Coach Lutz and his team didn’t seem to care that the Minnesota women were in the process of beating them, Purdue and Wisconsin soundly.
“We (haven’t talked) about winning or losing the whole year,” Lutz said. “We just talk about getting up and competing.”
Over the weekend, the ninth-ranked Gophers women’s swimming and diving team cruised to three easy victories in the Quad Duals held at the University Aquatic Center.
Even though this was a big weekend for No. 23 Illinois, No. 22 Wisconsin and unranked Purdue because they were swimming against a top 10 team in Minnesota, it was just another meet for the Gophers.
“It kind of gets boring,” senior Jessica Grass said. “It’s become kind of a routine. We know were going to win.”
Minnesota was confident and relaxed during the meet, having seized an unsurmountable lead early on Friday. Both Wisconsin and Purdue were extremely reserved, accepting their fate early on. Illinois, however, acted is if they were locked in a nail-biter, instead of being beaten thoroughly.
During the women’s 200-yard freestyle race, Illinois swimmer Emily Wang beat out Minnesota’s Olga Splichalova by almost a second, setting a new Minnesota-Illinois meet record. Lutz and the Illini bench reacted as if they had just won the meet, instead of winning one event.
The Gophers raced out to an early lead Friday night by winning five of the first nine events. Minnesota led Illinois, Wisconsin and Purdue by at least 40 points each after the first day of swimming.
Just like they have all season, the Gophers sustained their early leads, and were never really challenged in the meet. Minnesota beat Wisconsin, 243-105, Purdue, 243-107 and Illinois, 219-130. All three teams learned why the Gophers are undefeated and having one of their best seasons in recent history.
“I think this is the best team we’ve had in the last three years that I’ve been here,” junior Gretchen Hegener said.
Gophers coach Jean Freeman considers this squad to be the best dual meet team she has had in her 24 years at Minnesota. The Gophers are ranked No. 9 in the nation with just over two weeks left before the Big Ten championships. Minnesota improved to 14-0 and 6-0 in the conference with their victories Friday and Saturday at the Quad Duals.
Minnesota will compete against Iowa next Saturday at the Aquatic Center.
Minnesota men led by top conference times
Three Big Ten-record times over the weekend helped the No. 9 Gophers men to win over Purdue and Wisconsin. Friday night freshman Bill Bishop’s time of 9 minutes, 11.55 seconds in the 1,000-yard freestyle set the top time in the conference this year. Bishop had the Big Ten’s second-best time in the event coming into this weekend.
For the second week in a row, Minnesota’s 200 medley relay team of Eriek Hulseman, Oscar Godoi, Martin Zielinski, and Ty Bathurst also set the top time the Big Ten this season. Schlessman’s time of 44.78 in the 100 freestyle was also good enough to set a new conference best in 1996-97.