The University of Minnesota women’s swimming and diving team has enjoyed a great start to the 2010-11 season. After the first semester’s competition, the Golden Gophers find themselves with a 5-1 dual-meet record. The great start has both players and coaches excited.
“We are very happy with our fall season performances,” said Gopher co-head coach Terry Nieszner.
Let’s take a look back at how the Gophers made it to this point.
Minnesota kicked off the season with a victory against Big Ten rival Michigan 169-131 in Ann Arbor. Minnesota completed their stay in Michigan 2-0 with a dominate victory against Michigan State the next day 186-108 in East Lansing.
Minnesota opened their home schedule by handing Iowa State a 180-114 defeat. With the victory, the Gophers extended their win streak to 3-0 with a consecutive dominate victory. Minnesota was tested in their matchup against border rival Wisconsin. After digging deep, the Golden Gophers persevered. With some last-minute heroics, Minnesota pulled out an exciting come back victory 152.5-146.5.
At 4-0, Minnesota found themselves in another competition-packed weekend. The Gophers put their depth on display in a 180-114 against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The next day, Minnesota was handed their first defeat by North Carolina.
The headlines from the USA Swimming Minnesota Grand Prix were Jillian Tyler’s school-record performance in the 100 breast and the number of the qualifying times Minnesota achieved. Tyler swam two NCAA “A” times, her record time of 58.22 in the 100 breast among them, and was joined by a total of 20 swimmers and two relay teams who swam NCAA “B” qualifying times. The performance helped the Gophers solidify their No. 14 national ranking in the CollegeSwimming.com/CSCAA national poll.
All-American Tyler has continued to show her senior leadership in her specialty strokes. Tyler has already been named Big Ten Conference Swimmer of the Week twice this season. The first was after the victory against Michigan in October, the fifth such honor of Tyler’s career. Tyler added a sixth after her performance at the USA Swimming Minnesota Grand Prix in November. Tyler double dipped by being named National Swimmer of the week clocking in NCAA “A” qualifying times in both the 100 (58.22) and 200 (2:08.24) breaststrokes. Tyler was also apart of the 400 medley relay team that earned an NCAA “B” qualifying time of 3:38.57.
Success has not been restricted to upper class members on the team.
“Our freshmen have adjusted extremely well and their fall performances were outstanding,” Nieszner said.
Freshman, Maggie Keefer has been no exception. During the absence of defending national champion Kelci Bryant, Keefer has helped Minnesota hold it’s own on the springboard. Keefer was named Big Ten Conference Diver of the Week after the Iowa State dual meet. She won the 1 meter event with a score of 283.8.
Bryant made her much anticipated return to the 3-meter board at the Georgia Invite. Bryant showed that she hasn’t missed a step sweeping the springboard events while earning Big Ten Diver of the Week honors. It’s the fourth time Bryant has earned the Conference’s weekly award.
The performance of the team as a whole has put the Gophers in great position as they look ahead to an extended break from competition.
“We are extremely happy with where we are at heading into final exams and our intense training over break,” Nieszner said.
After finals lies a four-week hiatus from the classroom. The Gophers will be taking their talents to Kona, Hawaii to train for the second half and championship portion of the season.
“There is a lot of work to be done but we have put ourselves in good position to do so,” Nieszner said. “It will be a very exciting championship season!”
-- Written by Ty Sosina, Athletic Communications Student Assistant