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Gophers sending 16 student-athletes to men’s, women’s swimming and diving NCAA championships

In 17 of the past 18 years, Minnesota’s women’s team has sent at least four athletes to the swimming and diving championships.
Image by Ben Jackson (courtesy)
Megan Van Berkom placed third in the 400-yard individual medley preliminaries with a time of 4:02.53 on Friday.

The NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships in Athens, Ga. feature six Gophers, while the men’s championships in Indianapolis next week will feature 10 Gophers.

Headlining Minnesota’s student-athletes in the women’s championships are freshmen Katie McCarthy and Elna Widerstrom, sophomores Vivi Del Angel and Addie Albrecht, junior Eliot Kennedy, and senior Megan Van Berkom.

Van Berkom, who holds the school records in the 200 fly and 200 individual medley (IM) with times of 1:53.89 and 1:54.92, uses them to continue to push herself. 

“I really want to get another record in the 400 IM,” Van Berkom said. “Seeing your name up there is so exciting, so it’s still pushing me even though it’s my name and not someone else’s.” 

Van Berkom added that heading to Georgia with two swimmers in her group makes the event more exciting than usual.

Van Berkom is competing in her fourth straight NCAA championships. 

Through event seven on March 21, Widerstrom is the only Gopher swimmer or diver to compete. She finished sixth in one-meter diving.

She scored 286.40 in the preliminaries and 293.65 in the finals for a total of 13 points. Minnesota ranks 19th through event 7 with 13 points.

The men’s team will send eight swimmers and two divers to Indianapolis.

Headlined by senior Kaiser Neverman, the Gophers swimmers will also include seniors Chris Nagy, Matt McDonald and Casey Stowe, juniors Joe Rudd and Bar Soloveychik, sophomore Lovro Serdarevic, and freshman Davide Harabagiu.

Neverman, who will be competing in the 200 IM, 100 fly and 200 fly, set the school record for the 200 IM and 200 fly earlier this year.

When asked about how those records push him, Neverman said the records are “cool,” but has his eyes set on scoring during the NCAA championships and the upcoming Olympic trials. 

Neverman commented on how it feels to be going to Indianapolis with so many teammates. 

“Bringing 10 guys, two divers and eight swimmers, is going to be awesome because now we are going to have camaraderie and be able to see each other's faces each day,” Neverman said.

As for the divers, sophomore Drew Bennett and freshman YuTong Wang will represent Minnesota in the NCAA championships.

Director of swimming and diving for the men’s and women’s teams Kelly Kremer started leading both programs in 2011.

Kremer said coaching the two offered new challenges, comparing it to coaching two basketball teams or two hockey teams.

He added he and the program have grown since he joined Minnesota’s staff 26 years ago.

“[10 to 15 years ago] was so much about points on the board, and how we’re placing is a reflection of me,” Kremer said. “Now, I’m much more concerned about if [my athletes] are smiling when this is over. I’m much more concerned about their well-being.”

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