Feb. 19, 2013
Hosting the Championships
The University of Minnesota is set to host the 2013 Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships February 20-13 at the University Aquatic Center.
The facility was built in 1990 and was fashioned to meet or exceed Olympic standards. Nearly two acres in size, the Aquatic Center houses the Dorothy L. Sheppard Pool, a 50-meter competition pool, eight lanes wide and eight feet deep, with a moveable bulkhead. The separate diving well features a pair of one-and-three-meter boards, as well as 1, 5, 7.5 and 10-meter diving platforms. In addition to the 1,346 permanent seats, there is room for 1,200 temporary bleachers.
The Aquatic Center has hosted the Men's Big Ten Championships five times, most recently in 2005, and was the site of the Women's Big Ten Championships four times, lastly in 2004.
2012 Big Ten Champions
Minnesota took home the title at the 2012 Big Ten Championships at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Pool in Iowa City, Iowa last year. The only vision the Gophers have this year is to keep that title in Minnesota. Individual Big Ten Champions consisted of Tess Behrens in the 100 and 200 back, Haley Spencer in the 200 breast, Ashley Steenvoorden in the 500 free and Hannah Whitehead in the 200 free.
Live results from the meet can be found at www.bigten.org as well as www.gophersports.com.
Big Ten Network Coverage
The Big Ten Network will air the Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships on tape delay on Sunday, March 3 at 10:30 a.m.
The Final Lap
Minnesota has eight seniors that will be competing in their final Big Ten Championships, while looking to go out with a bang in no better way than at their home pool. Among the veterans is Haley Spencer, the defending 2011 and 2012 Big Ten Champion in the 200 breast. Spencer was named to the All-Big Ten First Team last year following her victory in the 200 breast, as well as posting a second-place finish in the 100 breast with a personal-best time of 59.52. This season, Spencer has notched nine first-place finishes and hopes to gain at least two more at this year's Championships.
Tess Behrens All About the Back
Junior Tess Behrens isn't just swimming in the backstroke, but she is aiming for back-to-back titles at this year's Big Ten Championships. The reigning Big Ten Champion in the 100 back and 200 back set program records of 52.35 and 1:53.34, respectively, at last year's Championships and was also named to the All-Big Ten First Team. This season, Behrens notched season top-times for the Gophers of 53.67 in the 100 back, 1:56.07 in the 200 back, as well as a 49.35 in the 100 free. Following a strong meet against Michigan winning two events, Behrens was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Week Oct. 9, 2012. Behrens could become only the fourth swimmer in Minnesota history to win two Big Ten individual titles in back-to-back years.
Maggie Keefer Diving for Redemption
Junior diver Maggie Keefer was named the Co-Diver of the 2012 Big Ten Championships after finishing runner-up in 1-meter (334.40) and 3-meter (370.25). Keefer has continued her success this season, earning the honor of Big Ten Diver of the Week five different times. Her new career-best score of 380.50 in 3-meter at the Minnesota Challenge gives the Golden Gopher high hopes of excelling at this year's Championships.
Sophomores Stealing the Show
The Gopher's 2012 Big Ten Champion team had various standout freshmen who are returning with a strong year of experience under their caps. They only know one way to do it, and that's to win it all. Kiera Janzen, Jessica Plant, Tori Simenec and Rebecca Weiland have combined for a total of 59 victories this year. Janzen leads the Gophers in the distance freestyle, coming in with top times in the 500 free (4:47.39), 1000 free (9:51.88) and 1650 free (16:24.83). She finished fifth in the 500 free at last year's Championships with a time of 4:42.48. Plant is an all-around swimmer, holding top five times in six different events for the Gophers. She finished third in the 200 free at last season's Big Tens with a time of 1:46.07. Simenec earned a third-place finish in the 200 IM last year with a 1:58.43 and has marked her lowest time at 2:01.75 in the event this season. She currently leads Minnesota in the 200 fly with a time of 1:58.87 as well as in the 200 free at 1:47.39. The battle for the 100 fly is lead by Weiland with a top time of 53.77, beating out her seventh-place 2012 Big Ten Championship time of 54.08. Keep an eye on this sophomore class as they aim to keep the title at Minnesota.
The Gophers have six freshman who will be making their Big Ten Championship debut. Among the half dozen is Kierra Smith who has already notched seven Big Ten honors combined of Swimmer and Freshman of the Week. Smith holds the Gopher's 2012-13 top times in the 100 breast (1:00.43), 200 breast (2:08.11), 200 IM (2:00.11) and 400 IM (4:22.51) and has marked 21 first-places finishes this season. Another standout freshman to watch is Lauren Votava who has been a top swimmer in sprint frees for the Gophers. Votava has swam her top times of 23.48 in the 50 free, 49.85 in the 100 free and 1:49.52 in the 200 free.
Preview for NCAAs
The Gophers have all of their focus on the Big Ten Championships, but it's hard to forget that it is the next step towards NCAAs. After winning Big Tens last year, Minnesota went on to send 14 swimmers and divers to the National stage and eventually take home 11th place and 24 All-American accolades. Out of those 14, 11 women are still on the Gopher's roster. With all that experience plus fresh talent, it's hard not to look forward to NCAAs.