The Indiana Hoosiers women’s swimming and diving team have repeated as the Big Ten Champs. Coming into the final day, the race was essentially a show-down between Indiana and Minnesota, and it went down just as one would hope, with those two teams winning every event on the final day.
Ashley Steenvorden of Minnesota began the day by closing the gap between her team and Indiana when she had the fastest time in the 1650, which was a timed final. This brought Minnesota to within 12.5 points of Indiana’s lead.
Indiana made their big move in the 200 backstroke, where they took the top 3 spots in the form of Kate Fesenko, Taylor Wohrley, and Ashley Jones. Fesenko blew the field away with a Big Ten Conference record of 1:51.32, which easily cleared the NCAA- “A” cut time of 1:53.37. Wohrley finished four seconds back in 1:55.32. Minnesota only managed to muster 5 points from a 12th place finish by Hannah Whitehead.
That race pushed Indiana’s lead to 60.5 points, and things only got worse for the Gophers in the 100 free. The Michigan women really excel in this event, and so it came as a bit of surprise when Donna Smailis and Margaux Farrell finished first and second ahead of Michigan’s top duo of Margaret Kelly and Natasha Moody. Indiana also picked up a fifth place finish from Brittany Strumbel. Minnesota was shut out of yet another event, which vaulted Indiana into an insurmountable 111.5 point lead with only 4 events to go.
Haley Spencer and Jilian Tyler were the brightest spot for the Gophers on the final day, when they went 1-2 in the 200 breaststroke, with both women achieving NCAA “A” Cuts, Spencer in 2:08.48, and Tyler in 2:08.85.
Fesenko picked up her second event win, and Big Ten record, of the day in the 200 fly, where she went a 1:54.85. Her teammate Britt Barwegen finished second in 1:57.66.
Minnesota’s Kelci Bryant, who won both springboard events, didn’t participate in the platform, which left the window open for Indiana’s Gabriella Agostino to snatch the event win.
In the 400 freestyle, with swimmers having nothing left to swim for but pride and NCAA qualifications, the Indiana women finished out the meet the way any champion would want to. Despite being the sixth-seed in the event, Indiana won the meet’s last event, thanks to a great anchor leg by Margaux Farrell (48.59). Smailis led of the relay, and Strombel and Whorley were in the middle, and the Hoosiers finished in 3:16.95. They were followed by Wisconsin, Purdue, and a dissapointing fourth place from Michigan, who was the overwhelming favorite in the race.
The final score had Indiana with 758 points, and Minnesota in second with 572.5. Michigan barely hung on for 3rd at 462.5, ahead of Purdue at 460.
The official Big Ten swimmer of the meet went to Kate Fesenko, but we’ll give our award to Donna Smailis. Fesenko won the 200 backstrokes and butterflies, and finished third in the 100 backstroke. She also swam the third leg on the winning 800 free relay. To us, though, Smailis had the more unexpected and impressive performance. Smailis won the 1oo fly, 100 free, and finished second in the 100 back. Smailis also led off, and had the best lead-off split in, both of the relays that Indiana won. Furthermore, Smailis’ performance were more unexpected, and unheralded swimmers stepping up is what Championship season is all about.
Fesenko also won the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year award, which she definitely deserved. Taylor Whorley of Indiana completed Indiana’s sweep on the swimming awards when she was awarded the Freshman of the Year award. Whorley finished second in the 200 backstroke, and was on the winning 400 free relay.
Minnesota’s Olympian Kelci Bryant won the Diver of the meet and year awards, after winning both the 1 and 3 meter springboard events. Her coach, Wenbo Chen, won diving coach of the year, accordingly.
John Klinge of Purdue won the Swimming Coach of the Year award after leading Purdue to its most successful Big Ten meet ever. Their 460 points is their highest point total ever, and Boilermaker swimmers set 17 school records at this meet alone.
Freshman of the Year: Taylor Wohrley, Indiana
Swimmer of the Championships: Kate Fesenko, Indiana
Swimmer of the Year: Kate Fesenko, Indiana
Diver of the Championships: Kelci Bryant, Minnesota
Diver of the Year: Kelci Bryant, Minnesota
Swimming Coach of the Year: John Klinge, Purdue
Diving Coach of the Year: Wenbo Chen, Minnesota
- Indiana 758
- Minnesota 572.5
- Michigan 462.5
- Purdue 460
- Ohio State 399.5
- Wisconsin 384.5
- Penn. State 333
- Northwestern 238
- Iowa 120
- Michigan State 89
- Illinois 51