The No. 10 University of Minnesota women’s swimming and diving team is in first place after two events and the first day of the 2009 Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Golden Gophers won their fourth-straight 800 free relay and finished third in the 200 medley relay to hold 72 points, while Indiana is second with 68 points and Michigan is third with 60.
Minnesota’s 800 free relay (Jenny Shaughnessy, Meredith McCarthy, Yuen Kobayashi and Christine Jennings) dominated the event from start to finish, winning its fourth-straight 800 free relay Big Ten event title. Minnesota, who won the event in an impressive time of 7:01.65, shaved off six seconds of the previous school record and automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships, March 19-21 in College Station, Texas. The Gophers’ previous best was 7:07.92, set in 2007, which also included the same four swimmers. Shaughnessy started the Gophers off in the right direction, giving Minnesota the lead after the first leg setting a record of 1:44.73. McCarthy and Kobayashi gave the Gophers a body-length lead, while Christine Jennings swam the last leg of the race to win the title. The time also set a Big Ten and new pool record.
Prior to the Gophers’ 800 free relay win, Minnesota opened the Big Ten Championships with a third-place finish in the 200 medley relay. The Maroon and Gold relay of Jenna Lennertz, Jillian Tyler, Kaylee Jamison and Stacy Busack combined for a time of 1:38.33. That time set a new school record and posted 32 points. Wisconsin and Indiana dominated the event, and went one-two. The Badgers finished with a Big Ten and an automatic qualifying time of 1:36.29, while the Hoosiers were right behind them with a time of 1:36.80. Minnesota’s previous best time in the 200 medley relay was 1:39.13, which was set earlier this year at the Ohio State Invitational, Dec. 5-7.
"I was really happy with our day," co-head coach Terry Nieszner said. "We have a lot of great senior leadership and our 800-freestyle relay, it was the fourth year in a row winning that relay. I am really proud of them and I think that was a nice way to start of the championship season. We're excited on how we started the meet and we can't wait to keep that momentum going."
Minnesota will continue its action at the championships over the next three days. Preliminary heats begin at 11 a.m. (ET), while finals are at 6:30 p.m. Tomorrow’s events include the 200 free relay, the 500 free, the 200 individual medley the 50 free and one-meter diving.