Key Losses: Haley Spencer (23 points, 2 NCAA Relays), Lauren Weis (1 NCAA Relay)
Key Additions: Ellen Bloom (MN – Backstroke/IM), Maddie Hoch (PA – Freestyle/Backstroke), Katelyn Holmquist (WI – Backstroke), Allison Schumacher (MN – Butterfly/Freestyle), Breanne Siwicki (Manitoba, Canada – IM/Freestyle), Lexi Tenenbaum (MN – Diving)
2012-2013 Lookback: The Minnesota Golden Gophers finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships for the third time in program history in 2013. Although their relays were not as fast as they were at the Big Ten Championships, all five relays scored points, showing good depth and balance for the team.
Haley Spencer is their biggest loss; she swam the breaststroke legs on both medley relays and scored individually in several events. Lauren Weis is also graduating; she was on the 800 freestyle relay at the NCAA Championships. Divers, Sarah McCrady and Maggie Keefer combined to score 31 points at the NCAA Championships for the team. Not only did they finish in the top ten as a team, they were also the Big Ten Champions, finishing 160 points ahead of the Indiana Hoosiers, who finished in second place.
Haley Spencer finished in the top 2 at the NCAA Championships in the 200 breaststroke for the third year in a row. After winning the event as a sophomore, she finished second in the event this year behind 2012 Olympian, Caitlin Leverenz. She also finished sixth in the 100 breaststroke, and was on both NCAA medley relays.
Kiera Janzen finished 15th in the 500 freestyle and 11th in the 1650 freestyle. Although she did not score in the 200 at the NCAA Championships, she looks very good for next season. She won the 200 meter freestyle at the U.S. Open this summer with her time of 1:58.28. That time is much more competitive than her time from the NCAA Championships, and should translate well into her 200 yard freestyle next season. Her 200 time was 2 seconds off of her season best time of 1:45.20. Janzen has the potential to be a huge contributor to the team next season. Sophomore Jessica Plant is another swimmer in the middle distance group to keep and eye on next season. She was 1:46.19 in the 200 freestyle, and just missed making it back to finals by .3 seconds. As a freshman, she led off the 800 freestyle relay in 1:45.
Side note: Can’t wait to see Kiera Janzen and Indiana’s Lindsay Vrooman show down again at Big Tens. Their 500 free battle last year destroyed anything we’ve seen in that race in this conference before.
Rebecca Weiland had one of the fastest times in the country after the Big Ten Championships in the 100 butterfly with her time of 51.61. She ended up finishing a little slower than her time from Big Tens, but pulled in points for her 12th place finish in the 100 butterfly. Weiland and Tori Simenec were both on the verge of scoring in other races. Weiland was 18th in the 50 freestyle and Siminec finished 18th 200 IM.
Diving: Maggie Keefer and Sarah McCrady combined to score 31 points at the NCAA Championships. Keefer finished second in the 1 meter springboard event as well as in sixth place in the 3 meter springboard event. Individually, Keefer scored 30 points for the team. Sarah McCrady also finished 16th in the platform diving event. McCrady represented Team USA at the World University Games in the synchronized diving event with Purdue’s Mackenzie Tweardy. The duo finished fourth at the games in Kazan, Russia.
Relays: All five relays scored at the NCAA Championships, which was an improvement from last season, but they did not swim any best times at the NCAA’s. Every relay was faster at the Big Ten Championships. Their 800 freestyle relay placed the highest for the team, finishing 8th place with their time of 7:02.77. Senior, Lauren Weis, was a member of that relay, along with Plant, Simenec, and Erin Caflisch.
The 200 freestyle relay of Weiland, Caflisch, Blake Zeiger, and Lauren Votava, finished 13th in 1:29.66. This relay improved from their 17th place finish the year before. The 400 freestyle relay finished in ninth place. The same swimmers from the 200 freestyle relay swam in the 400 freestyle relay, except for Simenec, who swam in place of Zeiger.
Tess Behrens swam the backstroke leg in the medley relays, followed by Spencer, Weiland, and Caflisch. They finished 11th in the 200 medley relay and 10th in the 400 medley relay. Behrens swam on both relays, but declared a false start in her 100 and 200 backstrokes.
Superstar Freshmen: Breanne Siwicki finished 5th at the Canadian Olympic Trials in 2012 and ranks 13th on Canada’s All-Time Top Times list in the 400 IM. She is very versatile, and is one of the top recruits of her class. She has been 2:09.8 in the SCM 200 backstroke, 2:12.8 in the SCM 200 IM, 4:35.8 in the SCM 400 IM, 2:12.1 in the SCM 200 butterfly, 4:11.0 in the 400 SCM freestyle, 2:01.0 in the 200 SCM freestyle, and 16:22.1 in the SCM 1500 freestyle. She is most likely going to be used in the IM and Freestyle events, and will immediately make an impact for the Golden Gophers.
Maddie Hoch will add to the middle distance freestyle group with her 1:48 200 freestyle and 4:48 500 freestyle. She is a very versatile swimmer; she has a solid backstroke and 400 IM as well. Allison Schumacher will add to the team as a sprint freestyler and butterflier. She has been 23.50 in the 50 freestyle and 55.7 in the 100 butterfly.
Katelyn Holmquist will contribute as a backstroker, she has been 55.9 and 2:01.8 in the 100 and 200 backstrokes. Ellen Bloom will contribute in the 200 IM as well as the backstroke events. She is coming in with a 55.8 and 2:03 in the 100 and 200 backstrokes as well as a 2:03 in the 200 IM.
Lexi Tenenbaum will add to the very talented group of divers at Minnesota. Tenenbaum is a USA Diving Senior Zone qualifier, finalist at the 2011 Minnesota State High School Championships, and a multiple time Minnesota High School Sectional Champion.
2013-2014 Outlook: There is a lot of talent at Minnesota, but they had a lot of swimmers who hit their taper at the Big Ten Championships and were a little off at the NCAA Championships. The team was very active this summer, which looks good leading into this years season. Several swimmers were at big meets this summer, diver Sarah McCrady competed for Team USA at the World University Games, and head coach, Kelly Kremer was a member of the World University Games coaching staff. The Golden Gophers are returning a majority of their top scorers, but Haley Spencer is going to be a huge loss for the team. She scored in multiple individual races and was a member or both medley relays. The team did not sign any new breaststrokers, so the current breaststrokers will have a lot more weight on their shoulders. Kierra Smith, who will be a sophomore, had a great year last year. She was 1:00.30 and 2:08.11 in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, though she admitted early in the season that the Canadian World Championship Trials a week later would be her focus meet for the season. She finished 17th in the 200 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships.
The team still has a lot of fast swimmers, but they are going to need to hit their taper at the NCAA Championships and score in every relay if they are going to be a top 10 team next year as well. There is a large group of swimmers who are on the verge of scoring in several races and a few freshman that could also score individually at NCAA’s. It will be exciting to see how the team progresses throughout the season.