Women’s swimming team ready to get back into pool

by Jim Schortemeyer

Rust was the operative word for the women’s swim team Tuesday night. The swimmers haven’t been in a meet since Nov. 23rd, and it had been a while since they’d been timed coming off of the blocks.
“We went eight rounds, and by the sixth round I felt we were ready for a meet,” coach Jean Freeman said.
The Gophers’ last action was the Minnesota Invitational, where they handily won a meet featuring several strong teams. Seniors Olga Splichalova and Gretchen Hegener both looked strong for an early season meet.
The old guard is looking to lead Minnesota to an improvement on last year’s second place finish in the Big Ten. The Gophers graduated only one of their seven Big Ten champions from last year, and junior T.D. Rowe (a transfer from Nebraska) has been a consistent point earner for the team. Although the team has placed second eight times in the last 13 Big Ten Championships, this year looks to be its best shot at a title in recent memory.
The Gold Country Invitational, taking place Saturday at the Aquatic Center, looks to get the Gophers back in the flow before their schedule gets considerably harder, with road trips to swim against Nebraska and Texas A&M on the schedule. Also coming up for the Gophers is a Quad Dual meet with Illinois, Wisconsin, and Purdue. This will be their last home meet before the Minnesota Challenge on Feb. 6-7.
Competing this weekend against mostly Division II competition, the Gophers are mostly looking for a chance to swim again.
“We want to get in and swim fast again,” senior Nicole Fiest said.
The main things the Gophers will be concentrating on are getting back to the flow of having meets and finalizing the roster. The Invitational will serve as a last chance for all those who want to travel with the team.
“For some of our kids, who aren’t in the top three positions, they’ll be trying to improve where they’re at,” Freeman said.
One problem the Gophers didn’t have in 1997 was swimming fast, as the team set seven school records. The good news for 1998: the season hasn’t really begun. Most of the swimmers aren’t rested yet, but when they are, their times should really start to drop.