May 15, 2012
Nine-time All-American Ashley Steenvoorden was named the Minnesota women's swimming and diving team's Most Valuable Athlete as the Golden Gophers celebrated a remarkable season at their annual team banquet. Minnesota claimed the Big Ten Championship crown and finished 11th at the NCAA Championships during the 2011-12 season.
Steenvoorden concluded her Gopher career as one of the most prolific distance swimmers in program-history. Along with claiming nine All-America honors during her career, Steenvoorden was also a six-time Big Ten Champion, which included a first-place finish in the 500 freestyle this season to help the Gophers claim the league title. The senior also Holds Big Ten and school records in the 500 free, 1000 free, 1650 free and as a member of the 800 free relay.
Honoring the legacy of the late Jean Freeman, an award was established to recognize a Golden Gopher with the team-first attitude and love for the sport that was so evident in Freeman's coaching. Junior Haley Spencer was the recipient of the Jean Freeman Award. She placed second in the 200 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships this season and was also crowned the Big Ten Champion in the event.
Another Gopher legend is remembered every year when the Dorothy L. Sheppard Award is announced.
This year's winner was senior Marissa Davies.
Sophomore Maggie Keefer, who was the Co-Big Ten Diver of the Championships, garnered Diver of the Year honors.
Kiera Janzen and Kristen Steenvoorden were honored with the Hardest Worker Award, while Tess Behrens, Erin Caflisch, Jenna Howenstein and Elizabeth Weitz were recognized with the Most Improved Award.
Lastly, the Women's Team Spirit Award was given to freshman Katie Anton
An impressive list of 17 Golden Gophers received Academic All-Big Ten honors, awarded to student-athletes who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher: Kaela Anderson, Tess Behrens, Loren Brandon, Erin Caflisch, Annalise Colton, Marissa Davies, Jenna Howenstein, Emma Jackson, Maggie Keefer, Haley Spencer, Ashley Steenvoorden, Kristen Steenvoorden, Hailey Szews, Lissa Tommerdahl, Lauren Weis, Elizabeth Weitz and Hannah Whitehead.