Stillwater native Meagan Radecke is finishing up her fourth year at the University of Minnesota. Meagan's younger sister Monica, on the other hand, is finishing up her freshman year. It's been déjà vu for these two who haven't swam together since high school.
"It's really fun to be on the same team as my sister," Monica said. "It's great because we push each other during practice and get to see each other a lot during team events."
"I'm glad we got to spend one of my four years here at the U together," Meagan said. "It's fun to see her improve, learn, and train because I know what all of that was like because I had already gone through it as a freshman. I really just want her to succeed in both the pool and in school, and be happy while doing it."
Monica Radecke looks like she is getting along just fine in her first year on campus. "So far I love it," she said. Perhaps the Radecke sisters' success is partially genetic, seeing that both their parents, Kurt and Tess, both swam at Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Meagan was a standout athlete for Stillwater Area High School. As a seven-time All-American, she helped lead the Ponies to two state championships. Meagan's academic success was impressive to say the least. She graduated as the Valedictorian of her '07 class and a member of the National Honor Society with a 4.0 grade point average. Academics played a part in her making the decision to swim for the University of Minnesota.
"I chose the U because it had the academic reputation I was looking for," she said. "I also knew I wanted to be at a big university with a lot of resources and opportunities. As far as swimming, I loved the team, coaches, facility...and I was very honored that they recruited me."
Terry Nieszner, co-head coach of the women's swimming and diving team with Kelly Kremer since 2004, is glad the recruitment was effective.
"Meagan has been an outstanding student-athlete here at Minnesota," Nieszner said. "She came in to the program with a limited background and has achieved to the highest level athletically and academically. She combined excellence in academics pursuing a Bio-Medical Engineering major while achieving All-Big Ten and All-American honors athletically."
Meagan did not hesitate to express her feelings for her coach who has been nothing but accommodating to her academic workload.
"I work with her every day as a sprinter, and I don't know if she understands the extent of my appreciation for being able to work around my chaotic academic schedule," she said. "I really truly appreciate it. Between labs, lecture times, tests, make up work...the past three years and still now, the coaches want me to do well in school and they have been very supportive and flexible so I can achieve my academic goals aside with my athletic ones."
Meagan has been an asset to the team for four years. As if one Radecke wasn't enough, in Meagan's fourth year, Monica followed suit. Another Gopher was born.
"I chose to come to the U because it's a great school," Monica said. "When I was deciding last year where to go to college I chose here because I loved the team and coaches. I thought it was a really good fit for me athletically and academically."
Monica also graduated from Stillwater with a 4.0 GPA, ranking first in her 2010 class. The 10-time all-state swimmer helped kick Stillwater to four Minnesota Class 2A championships.
Coach Nieszner sees the same qualities in Monica as she does in Meagan, and can't wait for her to reach her full potential.
"Monica comes into the program with a lot of similarities to Meagan," Nieszner said. "She is an outstanding student also pursuing a Bio-Medical Engineering degree and I believe her athletic performance over her 4 years will surprise a lot of people nationally."
The Radecke's share a commonality in the pool as well. Both compete in the sprint category, the 50 and 100 yard freestyle race. They each also swim a leg on the Gophers 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams. Meagan has already racked up three NCAA qualifying times. One in the 100 yard freestyle (50.16), the 400 yard Freestyle Relay (3:21.09), and the 200 yard medley relay (1:41.02).
Senior leadership has been evident on the swimming and diving team this year. Radecke feels confident that she is surrounded by teammates who are on the same page.
"I enjoy being around them because we all have a common goal in mind and want to do our best and be successful at the end of the season," Meagan said. "I love my senior class. We are like a family and have been through everything together over these past years."
The Radecke sisters have helped the women's swimming and diving team reach an impressive 6-1 record in dual meets this season. Their only loss came at the hands of North Carolina in November. The Gophers also placed first out of five teams at the Rutgers invitational and are 3-0 in their only quad dual meet of the season. The Radecke's are sure to see the season through.
"I believe their biggest strengths are certainly their focus on academics along with their innate desire to win," Nieszner said. "They certainly represent outstanding student-athletes from the state of Minnesota who have chosen the University to pursue excellence academically and athletically."