Big Ten Women's Swimming & Diving Championships
February 16-19, 2011
Hosted by Indiana U.
Prelims: 11 a.m. ET (10 a.m. CT)
Diving: 12 p.m. ET (11 a.m. CT)
Finals: 6:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. CT)
Minnesota Set for Big Ten Championships
No. 13 Minnesota travels to Bloomington, Ind., this week to compete in the 2011 Big Ten Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships, Wednesday-Saturday, Feb. 16-19. The Championships marks the 30th anniversary of the Conference event. The four-day event kicks off with finals in two relays on Wednesday. On the next three days, preliminary rounds will begin at 10 a.m. (11 a.m. ET), with finals following at 5:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m.).
BTN Covers Championships with Tape-Delayed Broadcast
The Big Ten Network will televise a special on the 2011 Big Ten Championships on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 11 a.m.
Big Ten Championships History
Indiana is the two-time defending Big Ten champion and has won the Conference title in three of the last four years. In the 29-year history of the Championships, Michigan by far has won the most team titles with 14. Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin have never captured a Big Ten women’s swimming & diving crown.
Following is a listing of team champions:
Michigan (14): 1987, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 01, 04
Ohio State (5) 1982, 83, 84, 85, 86
Indiana (4): 2003, 07, 09, 10
Minnesota (3): 1999, 00, 08
Penn State (3) 2002, 05, 06
Minnesota at the Big Ten Championships
The Golden Gophers have captured the Big Ten title three times (1999, 2000 and 2008). Minnesota’s first title in 1999, ended Michigan’s streak of 12 straight titles. The Gophers have annually contended for the title with eight second-place finishes to their credit in addition to the three titles.
Jillian Tyler Looking for History
Minnesota senior Jillian Tyler is the three-time defending champion in the 100-yard breaststroke. She has the chance to become the first Golden Gopher to win a Big Ten title in an individual event and 12th swimmer in Big Ten history to win four titles in the same event in consecutive years of a career. If successful, she would be the first to accomplish the feat since Michigan’s Lindsey Smith won four straight 200 free titles from 2004-07.
Swimmers to Win Four Straight Big Ten Titles in an Event:
Lindsey Smith (Mich.) 200 free 2004-07
Carly Piper (Wis.) 1,650 free 2002-05
Ellen Stonebraker (Wis.) 500 free 1998-01
Jenny Crisman (Mich.) 100 back 1988-01
Shannon Shakespeare (Mich.) 200 IM 1997-00
Christy Wicke (N) 100 fly 1992-95
Alecia Humphrey (Mich.) 100 back 1992-95
Alecia Humphrey (Mich.) 200 back 1992-95
Janelle Besse (OSU) 400 IM 1985-88
Gail Armstrong (OSU) 1,650 free 1985-88
Marci Ballard (OSU) 100 back 1982-85
The Gophers’ Defending Champs
Minnesota has four individuals and a relay heading into the 2011 Big Ten Championships looking to defend their Conference titles. Senior Jillian Tyler is a four-time Big Ten champion in the breaststroke events, three in the 100 (2008, 09, 10) and one in the 200 (2008). Senior Ashley Steenvoorden swept the distance freestyle events a year ago and is a two-time defending champion in the 1,650 free. Junior Haley Spencer is the defending titilst in the 200 breaststroke. In the diving, Kelci Bryant won both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events in 2010 and then went on to win the NCAA title on the 3-meter springboard.
The Gophers’ 400 medley relay returns all four of its members from the Big Ten champion foursome of a year ago: Hannah Whitehead, Kaylee Jamison, Tyler and Alison Eggers.
Gophers Bring Experience to the Table
The Golden Gophers definitely have experience on their side. Minnesota returns an amazing 93.7 percent (536.5 of 572.5) of their points from its 2010 Big Ten runner-up squad.
Kelci Bryant, A Big Ten Champion, NCAA Champion
Kelci Bryant is not only the defending Big Ten champion on both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards, but the Gopher junior is also the reigning NCAA champion in 3-meter diving. On her quest to better a sensational sophomore season in 2009-10, Bryant has earned four Big Ten Diver of the Week accolades. She comes into the Big Ten Championships after winning the national title in 1-meter diving at the USA Diving Winter Championships. Bryant also placed sixth on the 3-meter board in the meet.
Bryant’s top scores this season are 341.60 on the 1-meter board (Georgia Invitational) and 397.35 (Quad Duals) on the 3-meter board.
Ashley Steenvoorden Sets the Pace in Distance Freestyle
Junior Ashley Steenvoorden has already written quite a bit of Gopher history in the distance freestyle events. Steenvoorden is the two-time defending Big Ten champion in the 1,650-yard freestyle. If she makes it three straight, she will join Jillian Tyler (breaststroke, 2008-10) as the Gophers’ only three-time Conference champions in the same event. When she added the Big Ten distance double a year ago by winning the 500 free as well, Steenvoorden became the first Gopher to sweep the Big Ten distance free events.
The Women of Steel
Two Golden Gophers worthy of mention and to watch in the upcoming Big Ten meet are Kaylee Jamison and Hannah Whitehead. These Gophers will likely see the pool more than any of their teammates. A year ago, Jamison scored in six events and accounted for 58.5 points to the team tally. Not far behind her was Whitehead, who scored in five events and chipped in 53.5 points. Both were members of the Conference champion 400 medley relay. Individually, Jamison is seeded fourth in the 100 fly with a time of 54.25. Whitehead’s top seed is in the 500 free where is checks in at No. 5 with a time of 4:43.88.
Minnesota’s roster features two pairs of sisters. Ashley and Kristen Steenvoorden are twin sisters. Senior Meagan Radecke was joined by younger sister and freshman Monica this season.
Events to Watch for the Gophers
The following events are important in the Gophers’ hopes to contend for the Big Ten title.
The 100 breast – This is the Gophers’ marquee event with All-Americans Jillian Tyler and Haley Spencer leading the way. Tyler’s school-record time of 58.22 seconds from the Minnesota Grand Prix in November is not only the best time in the Big Ten this season, it’s also the fastest in the nation. Spencer gives the Gophers a sensational 1-2 punch in the event. Sh has clocked the third-fastest time in the Big Ten (12th in the nation) of 1:00.35 this season. Giving the Gophers yet more scoring potential in the event is sophomore Molly Belk. Belk is seeded sixth coming in Big Tens with a best of 1:01.95.
The 1m / 3m diving – Kelci Bryant is the class of Big Ten divers and look to continue her dominance in the events after sweeping the titles in her first Big Ten Championships. This time around, however, the Gopher have some depth that could aid in the scoring effort. Freshman Maggie Keefer earned a Big Ten Diver of the Week honor early in the season and has continued to improve. Katie Grunewalt has the potential to score on both 3-meter and platform.
The 200 breast – This event, like the 100 version, features the powerful duo of Jillian Tyler and Haley Spencer, both who own NCAA “A” qualifiers. Spencer is the defending Big Ten champion, but Tyler has the best time of the two this season. Tyler’s time of 2:08.24 is seeded No. 1 in the Big Ten and fourth nationally. Spencer’s time of 2:08.43 is second in the conference and fifth in the country.
The 1,650 free – Ashley Steenvoorden has been the class of the Big Ten in this event for the last two seasons. She owns the best time in the Big Ten this season, third nationally, of 16:01.33. The key to this event for the Gophers is who else can contribute. Sophomore Lauren Brandon placed fourth a year ago and comes into the Championships seeded third in the Big Ten with a time of 16:19.28. The Gophers have other scoring potential in Lissa Tommerdahl and Kristen Steenvoorden.
The 500 free – Ashley Steenvoorden is the defending champion, but comes in seeded second on the season with a time of 4:41.16, a time ranked 11th nationally. Hannah Whitehead is a versatile freestyler who will see a lot of action on the relays but who could also score big in this event. She is ranked fifth in the Big Ten with a time of 4:43.88.
The 200 fly – One of the Gophers’ best young swimmers, sophomore Molly Belk, is seeded No. 2 in this event heading into the Big Ten Championships. She is ranked 16th nationally with a time of 1:57.49. Also watch for Megan Braun, who won the Big Ten title in 2009.
The 200 free – The coaches consider this a wildcard event for the Gophers. Minnesota has five swimmers with NCAA “B” times in the event led by Hannah Whitehead and Ashley Steenvoorden.
The relays – Minnesota has the depth to make a statement in the relays. The Gophers have won eight relay titles in the last five seasons, with several additions runner-up performances as well. The Gophers’ 400 medley relay looks to defend their Big Ten title in 2011. All four relay members return in Hannah Whitehead, Kaylee Jamison, Jillian Tyler, Alison Eggers.
The Big Ten Well Represented in the National Poll
Minnesota is ranked the No. 13 team in the nation by the College Swimming Coaches’ Association of America poll. Stanford holds the No. 1 spot followed by Georgia, Auburn California and Texas in the top five. Minnesota at No. 13 tops the list of six Big Ten teams ranked in the top 20 with Indiana at No. 14, Michigan at No. 16, Wisconsin at No. 17, Ohio State at No. 19 and Purdue at No. 20.