Coaches' Corner: Q & A Session With Women's Swimming Co-Head Coaches Kelly Kremer and Terry Nieszner To gear up for the fall season, gophersports.com sat down with women's swimming co-head coaches Kelly Kremer and Terry Nieszner to talk about the summer competition, their upcoming schedule and what fans can expect for the 2007-08 season.
Gophersports.com: Your swimmers had a great summer of competition. How do you see that helping your team for the 2007-08 season?
Terry Nieszner:We had an outstanding summer of training and competing. The performances and experience gained will make us a better and stronger team for 2007-08.
Kelly Kremer: This should provide us with great confidence heading into this Olympic Year! I hope our athletes come out of this summer confident, motivated and excited about the year to come!
GS: This is the second season that you have opened with tough competition from the start. What are the benefits of competing against a team like Florida on Oct. 13th?
TN: Last season we opened our dual meet season with Cal who, at the time was the #1 ranked team in the country. This year we open with Florida, again a team that is a perennial top 10 pick. We performed awesome last year against Cal and we expect to do the same against Florida. Our team loves to compete and it will be fun to open with elite competition. KK: It forces us to be extremely focused from day one.
GS: Last year you finished 13th overall at the NCAA Championships. What are your goals this year?
TN: We have not met as a team yet to set goals for the 2007-08 season but certainly it will be to improve on our record from last season. I would say to be a top 3 team at the Big Ten Championship and improve on our 13th place finish at the NCAA’s, which would put us very close to a top 10 finish.
KK: That is really up to the women on this team and what they are willing to commit to. We have the talent to take another huge step forward this season, but it will depend completely on everyone being on the same page.
GS: Your team captains are Roxane Akradi, Sharon Leary and Jenny Shaughnessy. What do they bring to the team both in the and out of the pool?
TN: Our team captains this year each bring their own leadership style. They are all excellent student-athletes who demonstrate with their actions in and out of the pool what it takes to be successful Division I student and athlete. All three will lead by example and have the maturity to communicate with their teammates and with the coaching staff. We are very fortunate to have the quality leadership of these captains.
KK: They have all arrived at this role of leadership in such different ways. I think it is their differences that, when working together, will be their biggest strength. They all are so committed to the U of Minnesota and our team, and I believe they will assist our team in making the right decisions that will continue to move us forward.
GS: Your freestyle events and relays have proven to be the strength of your team in the past years. What other strokes will help you at the Big Ten and national level?
TN: This season we will be a much more well rounded team. The breaststroke and butterfly events is where you will see the most difference. The addition of Jillian Tyler along with returner Kait Strickland, who made her Olympic Trial cut this summer in the 200, will be impact performers. Add to that the performances turned in this summer by Kim Kazika and Katie Budahl, we will have depth in breaststroke. The butterfly events with Molly Belk and Megan Braun both of whom have their Olympic Trial cuts will be a dynamic duo to contend with. Backstrokes will be led by Roxane Akradi, another Olympic Trial qualifier, with Deidre DeWall and Erin Forster returning with NCAA experience. Our Middle-Distance and Distance freestyles return all four All-Americans: Yuen Kobayashi, Christine Jennings, Meredith McCarthy and Jenny Shaughnessy. Sprint Freestyle will return NCAA qualifiers Stacy Busack and Erin Holtmeyer add to that Megan Braun, Meagan Radecke, and Kaylee Jamison.
KK: I think it is exciting to enter a season without a real weak spot! Every strong team will have a great core of freestylers, but championship teams are strong in all areas and we are starting to develop this kind of strength. It is just really important that the athletes on our team continue to work hard at developing their talents!
GS: Is there a stroke that will strengthen your team this year that hasn’t been a point producer for you in the past?
KK: I am looking forward to watching our breaststrokes and butterflies this year and am expecting much more point production from these areas than we have received the past few years. This should also have a positive impact on our Medley Relays as well.
GS: Like it was at Minnesota last year, the Big Ten and NCAA Championships are being held in the same pool at Ohio State University. How does this help you in the post season?
TN: I believe having the Big Ten Championship and NCAA Championship at the same location helps our team by eliminating the stress of uncertainty and newness of the competitive arena. It enhances a sense familiarity and security which allows the focus to be on performance.
KK: Familiarity always seems to lessen some of the anxiety that comes during the Championship Season.