No. 16 Minnesota travels to Seattle, Wash. this week to compete in the 2012 NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, Thursday-Saturday, March 22-24. The three-day event features trials that will begin at 2 p.m. ET, and finals following at 10 p.m. ET each day.
Seattle Set for NCAA Championships
The Weyerhaeuser County Aquatic Center hosts the 2012 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships on March 22-24 in Seattle, Washington.
The Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center is a legacy venue of the 1990 Seattle Goodwill Games. This 2,500-seat facility maintains one of the most active competition schedules in the country, hosting more than 50 events annually. It has been the site of Olympic Trials, top national and international competitions, and the Pacific Northwest's premiere events. A recent economic study conducted for King County measured the financial impact of these events on the region in excess of $7.5 million annually.
The venue also features an Olympic-sized Competition and Training Natatorium, accommodating swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming along with a 25-yd x 15-yd recreational pool.
Live Coverage Available for Championships
ESPN3 will stream live the championship finals sessions Friday and Saturday. Coverage of the finals sessions Friday and Saturday will also be broadcast on ESPNU at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, Sunday, April 1. In addition, all three preliminary sessions as well as the finals session on Thursday will be streamed live on www.goseattleu.com..
NCAA Championships History
California is the defending NCAA team champion, having won its first Championship since the 1980 season. The BIg Ten's Michigan and Ohio State share thel lead with 11 national championships each, while Texas has 10, most recently in 2010.
Minnesota at the NCAA Championships
Minnesota has had a great deal of success at the NCAA Championships under head coach Dennis Dale. The Gophers currently own an impressive streak of 20 consecutive top-15 finishes at the NCAA Championships. Minnesota finished 15th in 2011 with 91 points.The highest Gopher finish in NCAA history was third place in both 1943 and 1962. Minnesota has scored in 48 NCAA Championships, including each of the last 25 years.
Want Great NCAA Finishes? Score Those Relays
The relays are so important at the NCAA Championships that they score double the points of individual events. In the past 10 years (2002-2011), Minnesota has had 46 relays earn All-America (top 16) finishes in the NCAA Championships, including all five relay teams in 2011.
Dennis Dale, the Dean of the Big Ten
Minnesota head coach Dennis Dale, the dean of Big Ten coaches in his 27th season, has entered elite waters in his tenure. He has led the Golden Gophers to a top-15 NCAA finish for 20 consecutive seasons, while coaching a total of 92 different athletes to 480 All-American certificates.
Look Out for that Relay
Five-time All-American Zach Bolin will make his third appearance at the NCAA Championships as he takes the pool in the 400 freestyle relay, along with Juniors Hrvoje Capan and Ben Griggs, and Sophomore Derek Toomey. The Gopher relay team finished in third place at the Big Ten Championships with their best time of the year, 2:53.31. Toomey returns for his second appearance to the Championships as a three-time All-American, while Capan and Griggs will make their first appearances. Minnesota's 400 freestyle relay continues to be a threat and will make a stomp at the Championships.
Diving in Deep
Kirstoffer Jorgensen and Mikey Ross put together strong performances at NCAA Zone diving to advance them on to the Championships. Both have led Minnesota in diving all season and claimed various victories. Jorgensen hopes to continue to finish off his career as a Gopher strong at NCAA's after claiming the title at the Big Ten Championships in platform diving. The senior out of Norway will make his second appearance while Ross, the transfer out of Madison, WI, will experience his first NCAA Championship appearance.
Underclassmen Making a Splash
Freshman CJ Smith has proved himself in the pool despite his age. He will compete in the NCAA's for the first time in the 1,650 freestyle. Smith placed fourth in the event at the Big Ten Championships, touching the wall at his best time, 15:02.57. Sophomore standout Kyler Van Swol will make his second appearance at the Championships, competing in the 200 butterfly, an event he has won several times this season. Last year, Van Swol earned All-American honors in both the 400 and 800 freestyle relays. They may be young, but they are fast.