Under the guidance of head coach Terry Nieszner, the University of Minnesota women's swimming and diving team has risen to the top of the Big Ten Conference and is a constant force within the national rankings. In her eight seasons at the helm of the Golden Gopher program, Nieszner, along with current men's and women's head coach Kelly Kremer, has led the Gophers to two Big Ten titles (2008, 2012), three second-place Big Ten finishes and eight top-15 performances at the NCAA Championships.
In the last six years with the women's program, Minnesota finished at least 13th at the NCAA Championships including a program-best ninth-place mark in 2011.
The 2011 meet was also the high-water mark in another fashion with three Gophers winning national championships. Sophomore Haley Spencer took the 200 breaststroke title while senior Jillian Tyler took the 100 breaststroke crown. Diver Kelci Bryant won her second national title in as many seasons, winning the 1-meter title as a junior after taking the 3-meter crown as a sophomore. Prior to 2010, Minnesota had won just one NCAA individual title. Overall 30 different athletes earned All-America honors in Nieszner's eight seasons with the women's program.
The Gophers also experienced great success in Big Ten Conference action, finishing at least second in the last five conference championships including winning the team title in both 2012 and 2008. Nieszner and Kremer guided 33 event champions during their seven seasons as co-head coaches, while Nieszner had five event champions in 2012.
Those five event champions helped Nieszner and Kremer to be named the Big Ten Swimming Coaches of the Year for the second time (2008), after guiding the women to their first Big Ten Championship since 2008. The women went on to an 11th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
The success hasn't been limited to the pool under the Nieszner's watch. The Gophers have posted at least 14 Academic All-Big Ten selections in each of her eight seasons with the women's program including 23 in 2012 and 22 in both 2011 and 2005. Kaylee Jamison became the first Gopher to earn GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team honors in 2011. Jenny Shaughnessy was a a Second Team Academic All-American in 2009.
After graduating a highly-successful class of seniors, Nieszner and Kremer reloaded with yet another talented group in 2009-10. At the Big Ten Championships, Minnesota captured seven conference event titles over the course of four days. The coaches guided seven individuals to first-team All-Big Ten honors and placed second at Big Tens for the second-consecutive year. In what some considered a "rebuliding" year, Nieszner and Kremer's team scored 572.5 points at Big Tens and went on to qualify 13 individuals to the 2010 NCAA Championships. Kelci Bryant, who was named the Big Ten Diver of the Year, went on to earn the national title in the 3-meter at NCAAs, the program's second NCAA event winner and the first under Nieszner and Kremer's regime. Minnesota placed 12th in the national standings when it recorded 102 points at NCAAs. Along with their efforts in the pool, Minnesota placed 14 on the Academic All-Big Ten list, while Kaylee Jamison held one of the athletic department's top grade point average for female athletes.
The 2008-09 season marked the Maroon and Gold's second-best national finish. The Gophers finished 11th overall in the nation and had the school's best representation with 15 student-athletes competing. For the second-straight year, Jillian Tyler finished as the national runner-up in the 100 breaststroke and third overall in the 200 breaststroke. At the conference level, Minnesota finished second in the Big Ten standings. Jenny Shaughnessy was the Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships as the Gophers had 11 swimmers on the first-team All-Big Ten list. Minnesota captured a school-best 10 event wins at the league championships, including three relay wins. Minnesota also had 17 members on the Academic All-Big Ten team.
In 2008, Nieszner and Kremer returned to the top of the Big Ten when their team won the championship title. During the course of the championship, the Gophers won five event titles and broke 14 school records. Under Nieszner's and Kremer's tutelage, the Gophers had eight student athletes earn first-team All-Big Ten honors. The duo also coached Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Jillian Tyler, who won the 100 and 200 breaststrokes and helped the 400 medley relay to a conference title. Following the conference meet, Minnesota set a school record as 12 student-athletes were selected to compete at the NCAA Championships. During that time, nine earned All-America honors as the Gophers finished 13th in the nation. Following the national championship, Tyler became the second Gopher in school history to be named to an Olympic team. Tyler, a native of Calgary, Alberta, swam the 100 breaststroke with Team Canada at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
Since Nieszner and Kremer took over the Gopher women's swimming and diving program, Minnesota has improved as a team every year in either the conference or at national championship level. In 2006-07, Minnesota moved up eight spots at the NCAA championships after a 21st finish from the previous year. The Gophers earned All-America honors in the 200, 400 and 800 free relays. Nieszner and Kremer coached Jenny Shaughnessy and Yuen Kobayashi to individual All-America honors. Along with their accomplishments on the national scene, the team finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships and led the Gophers to three Big Ten champions in Kobayashi (1,650 free), Christine Jennings (500 free) and the 800 free relay.
After finishing sixth in the league championships in 2005, the Gophers skyrocketed to a second-place finish at the 2006 Big Ten Conference Championships. Not only did the Gophers earn over 530 points at the conference championship, Nieszner and Kremer were named Co-Big Ten Coaches of the Year. The Gophers had four named to the first-team All-Big Ten Team and Kobayashi was named Freshman of the Year. Along with an outstanding conference performance, Nieszner and Kremer's squad had 10 swimmers qualify for the 2006 NCAA Championships, the most for the program since 1997-98. Along with 10 competing at the national championships, nine earned All-America honorable mention status, with the team placing 21st overall.
In their first year at the helm Minnesota swimming, Nieszner and Kremer's team ranked in the top 25 of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. After an impressive performance at the Georgia Invite, the Gophers entered the poll at No. 24. Minnesota was ranked as high as No. 23 following the Quad Duals against Big Ten opponents Wisconsin, Illinois and Purdue. The Gophers finished sixth at the Big Ten Championships, a higher finish then predicted. Minnesota finished the season with a 7-1 dual meet record and a 5-1 mark in Big Ten action. Not only did the Gophers improve in the pool, but also landed one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. Nieszner and Kremer recruited four summer national qualifiers.
After serving as the women's swimming assistant coach for 27 years, Nieszner was named the interim head coach immediately following former head coach Jean Freeman's retirement. Nieszner worked closely with Freeman for nearly three decades, and their coaching philosophies, styles and skills complemented one another very well. Nieszner is a well-known and highly respected member of the swimming community.
During Nieszner's tenure as an assistant, Minnesota won back-to-back Big Ten Championships in 1999 and 2000, and she coached 48 student-athletes to Big Ten titles in 53 individual events and 23 relay events. Since the start of Nieszner's coaching career, the Minnesota women's swimming and diving program has had 58 swimmers earn over 200 All-America certificates and have placed in the NCAA Championships 17 of the last 18 years.
Nieszner guided some of the greatest swimmers, not only in the Big Ten, but also in the nation. In her 27 years, Nieszner coached six-time All-American Diane Wallner, 12-time All-American and American record holder Gretchen Hegener and 10-time All-American Terri Jashinsky. Since the start of Nieszner's career, five student-athletes have earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor award, while seven were named the Women's Athletics Senior Athlete of the Year.
Minnesota also excelled in the classroom, earning two GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in Uta Herrmann and Dana Baum. The Gophers have had over 100 Academic All-Big Ten honorees, since the award was initiated in 1990.
A former Gopher swimmer, Nieszner was the first woman to earn All-America honors at the University of Minnesota. As a student-athlete, Nieszner was a four-time All-American (1974, twice in 1975, 1976) and a two-time Big Ten champion (1974, 1977). She was inducted into the Minnesota Aquatics Hall of Fame in 1984, the M Club Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Minnesota Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1994. She graduated in 1977 with a degree in physical education.
Nieszner has two sons, Joseph (2008) and Patrick (2010), both graduates of the University of Minnesota.