Feb. 16, 2012
Following the second day of competition at the Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, No. 15 Minnesota took over first place with 235 points, posting one NCAA "A" qualifying time, 22 NCAA "B" qualifying times and four NCAA zone qualifying marks in diving.
"We're obviously very happy with our performances today, our team is performing great," women's head coach Terry Niesznersaid. "We came out strong in the 500, had great performances in the 200 IM and 50 free and diving rounded it out. We're swimming great and diving well. We couldn't be happier."
The Gophers' 200-yard freestyle relay team of Blake Zeiger, Erin Caflisch, Tess Behrens and Becca Weiland placed third with their best time of the year and a NCAA "B" qualifying time of 1:30.31. Wisconsin won the event, posting a meet record, pool record and Big Ten record of 1:28.46, while Ohio State took second with a time of 1:30.04.
Ashley Steenvoorden dominated the 500-yard freestyle, earning her third-consecutive Big Ten Championship title with a NCAA automatic qualifying time of 4:38.00. That posted a new pool record at the University of Iowa Aquatic Center and was also Steenvoorden's best time of the year by over 10 seconds. Kiera Janzen, Kristen Steenvoorden and Hannah Whitehead all posted NCAA "B" qualifying times in the event as well. Janzen took fifth with a time of 4:42.48, with Steenvoorden closely behind in sixth at 4:42.77 and Whitehead coming in seventh at 4:43.86.
"Ashley is a competitor, she made a statement today," Nieszner said. "When she swam through the 300-350 range she just knew that nobody was coming near her and she went for the win. The team is just having a great time. They've done their hard work and now they're enjoying it, relaxing and having fun with it."
In the 200-yard IM, Tori Simenec placed third, posting a NCAA "B" qualifying time of 1:58.43, her fastest time of the season. Indiana's Allysa Vavra took first with a meet record, Big Ten record and pool record time of 1:55.44, while Penn State's Merritt Krawczyk took second at 1:57.77. Minnesota's Hayley Spencer finished ninth with her best time of the year, 1:59.59, while Jessica Plant came in closely behind in 11th with 2:00.26, also her top time. Both were NCAA "B" qualifying times.
Caflisch finished seventh in the 50-yard freestyle with a NCAA "B" qualifying time of 22.78, making it her top time on the season. Wisconsin's Beckie Thompson claimed the title, setting a meet record, Big Ten record, and pool record of 22.04. Tess Behrens, in the B final, came in 10th for the Gophers with a NCAA "B" qualifying time of 22.76, while Blake Zeiger came in 13th with her best time of the year, 23.10. Rebecca Weiland swam in the C final and posted another NCAA "B" qualifying time of 22.81 for Minnesota.
In 1-meter diving, Maggie Keefer posted a second-place NCAA zone qualifying mark of 334.40. Ohio State's Bianca Alvarez took first with a mark of 360.65. The Gopher's Sarah McCrady finished in 10th with another NCAA zone qualifying score of 310.10.
Following the Gophers in second place sits Ohio State with 222 points and Indiana in third with 203 points.
"We have to continue what we're doing right now to remain in first place. The people who are really in the scoring positions have to do what they need to do to stay there and our people who haven't need to step it up and score," Nieszner said. "What a position to be at. They're having fun, they're proud and they just need to step it up and do the job they're capable of doing."
Day three of the championships continue Friday with the prelims starting at 11:00am and the finals at 6:30pm. The order of events are 400 medley relay, 400 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and 3 meter diving.
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