No. 11 Minnesota travels to Auburn, Ala., and the campus of the University of Auburn this week to compete in the 2012 NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, Thursday-Saturday, March 15-17. The three-day event features trials that will begin at 11 a.m. CT, diving prelims at 1:00 p.m. CT and finals following at 7 p.m. CT each day.
Minnesota Set for NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships
The University of Auburn hosts the 2012 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships on March 15-17 at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center in Auburn, Ala.
The $10.5 million James E. Martin Aquatics Center opened in October, 1993. The 63,000 square-foot facility has a 77-yard long competition pool and separate diving pool. The facility seats approximately 1000 spectators with an additional 800 seats for competitors on the pool deck. The facility adjoins Auburn's former swimming facility, which has undergone an extensive renovation and now serves as a warm-up and practice pool.
Auburn previously hosted the 2003 Women's NCAA Championships and 1998 Men's NCAA Championships at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center.
NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships Marks 32nd Year
The 2012 NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships marks the 32nd year for the event. Stanford has captured the most NCAA titles with eight, followed by Texas with seven, but neither team has added to their total since 1998. California is the defending champion once again after winning in 2009. Auburn was the last to repeat, winning in 2006 and 2007 and is also the last team to three-peat at the Championships.
Minnesota at the NCAA Championships
The Golden Gophers have scored in 27 of 30 NCAA Championships. Minnesota's top finish was 9th last year. In 2011, Minnesota scored a program-best 192 points. Overall, Minnesota has nine top-15 finishes, including in each of the last four seasons.
NCAA Championships on National Television
ESPN3 will stream live the championship finals sessions Friday and Saturday. Coverage of the finals sessions Friday and Saturday will also be broadcast on ESPNU at 7 p.m. Eastern time, Wednesday, March 21. Preliminaries will be streamed live on CBSSports.com ULive.
The Big Ten Well Represented in the National Poll
Minnesota is ranked the No. 11 team in the nation by the College Swimming Coaches' Association of America poll. The final CSCAA poll of the 2011-2012 season for Division I Women predicts the outcome of the NCAA Championships. Georgia holds the No. 1 spot followed by California, Arizona, USC and Stanford in the top five. At No. 11, the Gophers top the list of six Big Ten teams ranked in the top 25 followed by No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 15 Indiana, No. 19 Ohio State, No. 22 Penn State and No. 24 Purdue.
Minnesota National Champions
The Golden Gophers had three student-athletes claim NCAA Championships last year, a mark that matched its previous overall total of three titles.
Haley Spencer - 200 breast - 2011
Jillian Tyler - 100 breast - 2011
Kelci Bryant - 1-meter diving - 2011
Kelci Bryant - 3-meter diving - 2010
Gretchen Hegener - 100 breast - 1997
Chris Curry - 3-meter diving - 1981 (AIAW)
Haley Spencer Aims at Title Defense
Minnesota junior Haley Spenceris the defending NCAA champion in the 200-yard breaststroke. Spencer will compete in the 100 and 200 breaststroke along with the 400 medley relay at this year's NCAA Championships. Spencer has enjoyed another top-notch season in 2011-12. She captured the title in the 200 breaststroke at the Big Ten Championships, blowing out the competition with a time of 2:07.58. Spencer earned a spot on the 2012 All-Big Ten First Team. Spencer could become the first Gopher to win back-to-back NCAA Championships in the same event.
Ashley Steenvoorden the Gophers' Long-Distance Ace
Senior Ashley Steenvoordenis a six-time All-American competing in the 1,650 freestyle and 500 freestyle. Steenvoorden finished in fourth place in both the 500 and 1,650 free at the NCAA Championships last year, with times of 4:37.11 and 15:53.80 respectively. She placed ninth in her first two NCAA appearances in the 1,650 free with nearly identical times - 16:02.39 in 2010 and 16:02.57 in 2009. Steenvoorden could become only the second Minnesota swimmer to earn NCAA All-America honors in the same event four times in her career with a strong showing in the 1,650 free. Jillian Tyler became the first Gopher swimmer to attain the feat with her NCAA Championship in the 100 breaststroke last season.
Gopher Swimmers with Three-Straight NCAA All-America Honors in Individual Events
Jillian Tyler - 100 breast - 2008, 09, 10, 11
Ashley Steenvoorden - 1,650 free - 2009, 10, 11
Gretchen Hegener - 100 breast - 1996, 97, 98
Olga Splichalova - 500 free - 1996, 97, 98
Tanya Schuh - 100 fly - 1995, 96, 97
Tami Grewenow - 100 breast - 1988, 89, 90
New Kid on the Block
Though Maggie Keefer will be making her second appearance at the NCAA Championships, the sophomore will be looked upon to lead the Gophers' diving corps with 1 meter and 3 meter NCAA Diving Champion Kelci Bryanttaking the year off to train for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Leading up to the event, Keefer has done her best to fill the shoes. She won titles in 1 meter diving eight times and in 3 meter diving in five times so far this season, while also being named the Diver of the Championships at the 2012 Big Ten Conference Women's Swimming and Diving Championships.
Six Gophers, including four freshmen, will be making their debut at the 2012 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championship this season, but each looks to make a major impact for the Gophers as they vie for their best finish at the event. Sophomores Erin Caflisch and Sarah McCrady and freshmen Kiera Janzen, Jessica Plant, Tori Simenec and Rebecca Weiland have been intregal components to the Gophers' success in 2011-12, as they have combined for 58 victories, including as part of relay teams, during the course of the season. Erin Caflisch will compete with the 400 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams, while McCrady enters the NCAAs having claimed the title in platform diving at NCAA Zone D Diving with a combined score of 559.10 last weekend. Kiera Janzenwill compete in 500 free, in which she has won three times on the year. Also competing in the 400 freestyle relay will be Simenec and Plant, who have helped the relay team to seven victories in the event during the year. Simenec will also compete in the 800 free relay and the 200 IM, while Plant will join Simenec in the 800 free relay and also compete in the 200 freestyle. Weiland will be part of the 400 medley relay.
Three Gophers Cap Minnesota Careers at NCAA Championships
Minnesota's NCAA roster includes three seniors who will end their Gopher careers at the NCAA Championships - Ashley Steenvoorden, Kristen Steenvoorden and Hannah Whitehead. The 2012 senior class has a combined 12 All-America honors among them.