The Minnesota women’s swimming and diving team is slated to host a pair of dual meets this weekend. On Friday, Nov. 5, the Golden Gophers take on Big Ten rival Iowa at 5 p.m. Then on Saturday, Nov. 6, North Carolina comes to town for a 12 p.m. meet. Both co-ed meets will be at the University Aquatic Center. Admission is free.
The Gophers are off to a great 4-0 start this season. Minnesota is 3-0 in Big Ten dual meet, including an exciting come-from-behind victory against Wisconsin (152.5-146.5) last week.
The double dip of dual meets will be a tough early-season challenge for the Gophers but Minnesota definitely has a plan in place for the weekend.
“We are looking at this weekend as an opportunity to be highly energetic for two sessions,” said Golden Gopher co-head coach Kelly Kremer. “We are treating it as if Friday were prelims and Saturday finals.”
Iowa is 2-1 heading into Friday’s dual meet with wins over Truman State (159-99) and Michigan State (175-125). The loss came at the hands of Wisconsin (208-92). Last season, the Gophers posted the victory against the Hawkeyes (176-118) in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes placed ninth in last year’s the Big Ten Championships.
The backstroke events could be among the most entertaining in the Iowa dual. Hannah Whitehead will pace the effort for the Gophers, while the Hawkeyes will counter with junior Daniela Cubelic.
Saturday’s meet features a battle between NCAA top-20 teams from a year ago. Minnesota finished 12th, while North Carolina was 20th. North Carolina is coming off of an impressive 165-127 victory against Maryland where the Tar Heels won 13 of 16 events.
The breaststroke events will be fun to watch with All-Americans on both teams. Jillian Tyler and Haley Spencer will battle Tar Heel junior Laura Moriarty, who placed eighth in the 200 breast at NCAAs last spring.
The Steenvoorden twins played a crucial role in the Gophers win last week and will likely do so again in the dual with North Carolina. Ashley Steenvoorden placed first in the 500 free with an NCAA “B” qualifying time. She also won the 1,000 free. Kristen Steenvoorden won the 200 individual medley and added a runner-up showing the 500 free.
The Tar Heels will look to senior Katura Harvey in the distance free events. She is a returning All-American in the 1,650 free finishing seventh in the NCAAs last spring.
North Carolina also has a top freshman in Stephanie Peacock, who has already notched NCAA “B” cuts in the 400 individual medley and the 200 free. Peacock was honored as the ACC Performer of the Week after the Tar Heels’ win over Maryland.
Last week, sophomore Katie Grunawalt took first place in the 1-meter diving event, ending freshman Maggie Keefer’s streak of three consecutive wins to start the season. On Friday, the Gophers compete against Iowa senior Deidre Freeman, who took first place last week in both 1 and 3-meter events. On Saturday, they will compete against North Carolina junior, Jenna Moore, who is the Tar Heel school recordholder on the 1m board.