Sept. 20, 2012
Gophersports.com caught up with Minnesota women's head swimming coach Terry Nieszner to preview the 2012-13 season. The Golden Gophers open the year vs. Michigan Oct. 5-6 in Ann Arbor.
Coming off a strong 2011-12 season, do you have high expectations for this year?
Terry Nieszner: “I believe that our team will be as strong as our team last year, but again, it’s a new team. We have a great group of freshmen and we have great senior leadership. Put that all together and we’re definitely looking forward to another great season.”
What is your biggest strength as a team this season?
TN: “Our biggest strength is how experienced we are, because both our veterans and our newcomers have competed at some of the highest levels in our sport. Many of our returners now have Olympic Trial experience, and we have a great mix of athletes with International experience.”
What can we expect from the freshman class?
TN: “The freshman class is an extremely talented group, and they have all come in with national-level experience. I believe that every single one of them is going to make an impact in their first year.”
Who should we keep an eye on that could be a strong performer later in the season?
TN: “You don’t want to put pressure on anyone or predict things to come, but we do have athletes on this team that have won National Championships and Big Ten titles. We also have athletes that are very hungry and are moving up that have improved over the summer. I think with the Big Ten Championships being in our home pool this year, it definitely gives our team more confidence. We’re just going to go out there and do our best and put everything we have learned together.
The Big Ten conference is an extremely competitive conference. Indiana and Ohio State have made huge improvements, but we believe we have as well. It is going to be a dogfight, which is what makes the Big Ten Conference great.
At the NCAA level, we have so many veterans returning with experience and, again, combine that with a few of these freshmen who have national and international experience, and it is very exciting. The NCAA Championships are one of the most competitive meets in the world, so anything can happen. I can’t predict how we will finish, but I believe that we will be a force to contend with.”
How is the competition at the dual meets in the beginning of the season?
TN: “The dual meet season will be very, very fun for us. We start off the year against Michigan, who is always competitive on every level. We follow that up with a dual meet at home against Wisconsin which is a huge rivalry for us in every sport. It will be an exciting fall, and to be able to kick it off with two Big Ten rivals in the month of October should be fun.”
How big of an impact will hosting the Big Ten Championships have on the team?
TN: “It is always fun to host the Big Ten Championships, and Minnesota does it so well. Our event management staff puts on a great meet. People love to come to Minnesota for a championship because it is so well run and it is a quality, quality experience for the student-athletes. I believe that alone is an advantage because it gives you an extra sense of pride to be associated with the University of Minnesota.
We also get a few more fans when we host a championship. Many of our local alumni will come to watch the meet and it is a great experience when you have your hometown fans in the stands.”
What are a few of your goals for this season?
TN: “Just hearing the team talk, I am going to guess that their goal is to defend their Big Ten title and, if not win it, be in contention and give whoever does win it a race till the end, which is the goal of our coaching staff as well. At the NCAA level, our goal is to always be in the top 10 or as close to the top 10 as we can. Our team will come together and create their own goals, but I’m going to assume they’ll mirror what the coaches feel. Overall, the coach’s goals are always to contend for the Big Ten title and break into the top 10 nationally.”