March 15, 2012
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Minnesota senior Ashley Steenvoorden tallied her seventh-career All-America honor with a sixth-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle and sophomore Maggie Keefer picked up her second-career All-America accolade with a fifth-place showing in 1 meter springboard to lead the Gophers on the opening day of the 2012 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center in Auburn, Ala.
As a team, the Maroon and Gold finished the day with 37 points and six All-America awards, and currently sits in 11th place behind California, Stanford, USC, Arizona and Auburn who make up the top-five.
"This was a great start for us," head men's and women's coach Kelly Kremer said. "Just like the Big Ten Championships, all of our swimmers and divers decided that this moment wasn't too big for them. They were comfortable and they are having fun. And I think tonight, Ashley getting sixth place and being an All-American again in the 500 was great."
Steenvoorden posted a time of 4:37.95 in the A Final of the 500-yard freestyle to earn her second All-America certificate in the event. The senior also claimed the status last season with a fourth-place showing.
Keefer's score of 332.40 in the 1 meter diving A Final allowed her to claim her first-career All-America First Team honor, after having registered All-America Honorable Mention accolades in the event last season as a rookie. Keefer posted her best score of the final with a 62.40 on her second dive, a forward 2 ½ somersault pike.
"Maggie did outstanding in getting fifth in 1 meter diving and our 400 medley relay team moved up a spot from the preliminaries, so I think we really maximized our scoring opportunities today," Kremer said.
The 400 medley relay team of Tess Behrens, Haley Spencer, Rebecca Weiland and Erin Caflisch added four All-America honors to Minnesota's total with a 12th-place overall finish. The squad touched the wall in 3:33.71, its fastest time of the season, in the consolation final to each earn All-America Honorable Mention honors.
In the preliminaries, Steenvoorden placed fifth in the 500-yard freestyle with a program-record time of 4:36.23, a mark that bested her prior record of 4:36.48 set last season by 0.25 seconds and was the fastest time among Big Ten swimmers this year. Meanwhile, Keefer advanced to the A final in 1 meter diving with a score of 311.65, which placed her fifth overall.
The 400-yard medley relay team finished 13th overall in the preliminaries with a time of 3:33.81 to advance to the consolation finals.
Also competing in the preliminaries were freshmen Jessica Plant (200 free relay), Kiera Janzen (500 free) and Tori Simenec (200 IM), sophomore Sarah McCrady (1 meter diving), junior Lauren Weis (500 free) and senior Hannah Whitehead (500 free).
The Gophers will compete in the 200 medley relay, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 800 freestyle relay and 3 meter diving.
"We are in really, really good shape heading into tomorrow," Kremer said of Friday's events. "I think we are really balanced. I like our 200 medley relay, I like our 800 free relay, and obviously with Maggie and Sarah in 3 meter diving we are strong. Haley in the 100 breast and who we have competing in the 200 free and the 100 butterfly are all really strong as well. So, I think tomorrow will be a great day for us."