Minnesota (women) 200, Michigan (women) 150
The Michigan women headed up to Minneapolis for a two-day dual meet with Minnesota, and they received a solid thrashing at the hands of the Golden Gophers. The final score was in round numbers and not too far apart, though Minnesota exhibitioned all but their top swimmer in the last four events of the meet.
Haley Spencer, Minnesota’s returning NCAA Champion in the 200 breaststroke, got her season off to a solid start as the teams premier breaststroker (after Jillian Tyler’s graduation). She won the 100 breaststroke in 1:02.29, and the 200 in 2:14.92, both of which stand as the 2nd-best times in the country this season (behind Wisconsin’s Ashley Wanland). She also tacked on a win in the 200 IM in 2:03.63.
Her teammate Ashley Steenvoorden, who has a National Title of her own, though hers is a USA Swimming long course win, also swept her individual events. She put up times of 4:49.25 in the 500 and 16:27.17 in the mile. Both of those times stand behind, in comparison, what Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel did over the weekend. They are about par for her this time of season, but are probably not a great sign for Steenvoorden headed into next week’s Pan American Games. She (and Spencer) will be trekking to Guadalajara to participate, but both seem to be using it as just another training meet for the NCAA season (though, Minnesota swimmers have shown the ability to turn on a taper in a hurry).
Tess Behrens, former Aquatjets teammate of Rachel Bootsma, got her season off to a great start with a win in the 100 back in 54.02. That makes her the first swimmer in the country this year to go under 55-seconds in the event, and it’s within three-tenths of her carer-best time from Big Ten’s last year. She also won the 200 back in 2:00.74. If this is a sign of a breakout year for Behrens, that could be a huge thing for coach Kelly Kraemer. The Aquajets program, in suburban Minneapolis, continues to churn out very good swimmers beyond Rachel Bootsma, and the Gophers have always recruited it well. If Kraemer develops their swimmers into stars, it will really help continue to keep those swimmers in town at Minnesota.
For the Wolverine women, the star of the meet was senior Caitlin Dauw, who is going to be the team’s most important swimmer this year. She swept the butterfly events with a 2:02.34 in the 200 fly and a 55.13 in the 100, which is an event that she placed 10th in the country in last year. She also split a 23.50 to lead Michigan to its lone relay win in the 200 free relay.