Minnesota swimming and diving rolls to win

Brian Stensaas

From the blaze orange of Tennessee to the yellow and black Zubas of Iowa, they showed up at the Minnesota Aquatic Center this weekend in colors that would make Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat jealous.
But in the end, it was the maroon and gold of Minnesota that shone the brightest.
The Gophers women’s swimming and diving team breezed past the opposition this weekend at the Minnesota Invitational, a meet that featured four teams ranked in the nation’s top 25.
The Gophers withstood a heavy schedule of preliminaries and finals over three days and won with a combined score of 847 points. Thirteenth-ranked Wisconsin was second with 695.5 and Illinois was third with 632 points.
Minnesota wasted little time taking a commanding lead, but it wasn’t easy. Surprisingly, unranked Illinois nipped at the heels of the No. 15 Gophers. The Illini came out strong in the first evening session to tie Wisconsin for second place, 77 points behind Minnesota. Illinois would have had sole possession of second, but Minnesota’s “A” 200-meter freestyle relay team came out on top by two hundreths of a second.
“We had challenges from Illinois at the beginning of the meet,” coach Jean Freeman said. “We stepped up to that though. When (Illinois) thought they were going to win that free relay we said No, you’re not going to take that away from us’ and stepped up to beat them.”
In total, Minnesota won five events on the weekend.
In addition to the 200 freestyle relay, the Gophers also won the 400 and 200 medley relays. Senior Terri Jashinsky won the 100 butterfly while senior Kelsey Hegener rounded out the wins with a first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke.
“This whole weekend felt really good,” Jashinsky said. “This is a tough meet because in the three days, there isn’t a lot of time to rest. It’s always nice to see good results in hard days like these.”
The format of having to swim in yards in the morning session and meters in the evening is a good tuneup for the Gophers. It’s the same format the NCAA championships will use in March.
“I would say that we are ready for another meet like this,” said senior Jenny Hennen, who was a member of all three relay wins for the Gophers. “This type of meet prepares us well. Not only for Texas, but for Big Tens and NCAAs.”
Freeman predicted better results in similar meets.
“We withheld very good teams here,” she said. “In the coming meets, we’ll be rested and ready to swim even faster times.”
After traveling to Texas, the Gophers will be on their training trip to Hawaii, Jan. 2-15.

Brian Stensaas covers swimming and diving and welcomes comments at [email protected]