Women's Swimming and Diving Championships Preview
Feb. 15, 2005
The 2005 edition of the Big Ten Conference women's swimming and diving championships returns to the campus of Indiana University and the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center for the first time since 2001. Last years championships featured a close team competition which saw the Michigan Wolverines edge out the Nittany Lions of Penn State by only 14 points to claim the title. This year, the host Hoosiers will try to win their second championship in the last three years after claiming the 2003 crown. In addition, Indiana will attempt to become the first school to win a championship in its home pool since Minnesota in 1999.
Individually, the 2005 championships will feature seven swimmers in 12 different events who qualified as "A" standards for the NCAA championships in March. The 2005 meet will also feature a slight rule change. For the first time neutral judges will be used for the diving competition. The Big Ten is the first conference to go neutral diving judges. In the past coaches from each team made up the diving judge panel.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Barbie Viney leads the way for the Illini in the freestyle events. Currently she ranks first on her team in the 50 (23.55), 100 (50.26), 200 (1:50.14) and 500 (4:56.09) yard freestyle. In the conference ranks she stands in the top 12 of all of those events. Meghan Farrell and Kristin Koepecke are Illinois' other top freestyle entries with Koepecke being U of I's top performer in the 1000 (10:09.82) and 1650 (16:55.36) meter freestyle.
Trisha Lakatos is fifth in the league in the 100-yard breaststroke and sixth in the 200-yard with times of 1:03.66 and 2:18.26 respectively. In the butterfly events, Illinois features a deep trio in the 100-yard and 200-yard fly. Christina Brunka, Michelle Grandcollas and Jessica Rothenberg posted season best times of 56.70 for Brunka, 58.64 for Grandcollas and 58.77 for Rothenberg in the 100 yard event. Rothenberg, Viney and Grandcolas all posted top times in 2004-05 in the 200-yard butterfly within two seconds of each other. Rothenberg's top time was 2:08.01, Viney topped out at 2:09.48 and Grandcolas at 2:09.90. In addition, both of Illinois' freestyle relay teams posted good top times this season with a 1:35.20 in the 200-yard freestyle relay and a 3:26.27 in the 400-yard freestyle relay. On the boards, Jackie Bain and Abbey Bernardo are solid in all three diving events
The Hoosiers will have home pool advantage at this year's championships in their attempt to win their second Big Ten Conference title in three years. Junior Kristen Bradley is at the top of the books in five different events: 500-yard freestyle (4:53.72), 100-yard breaststroke (1:08.12), 200-yard breaststroke (2:21.68), 200-yard individual medley (2:03.35) the 400-yard individual medley (4.18.94). Joining Bradley to lead her team in multiple events is Leila Vaziri, who turned in the top times in four separate events during the 2004-05 campaign. The sophomore is the top entry for IU in the 100-yard freestyle (51.10), 200-yard freestyle (1:49.88), the 100-yard backstroke (54.83) and the 200-yard backstroke (2:00.76).
Additionally, Vaziri is prominent in several of the Hoosiers relay teams - an area where Indiana excels. Overall, IU is in the top half of the Big Ten in all but one of the relay events. Leading the way is the 800-yard freestyle relay team with a number two ranking in the league and the 200-yard freestyle relay team which stands in third in the Big Ten at 1:33.55. Two different Hoosier divers set school records this season. On the three-meter board, Christina Loukas scored 354 points in a dual meet to set the school mark while Lindsay Weigle scored a 343.65 to set the school record for dual meets on the platform. Both should prove to be tough competition for the rest of the league.
Iowa's top performers in the freestyle races are not ranked in the top 10 in the conference this season. However, many of the Hawkeyes top swimmers stand just behind the top times in the Big Ten this season - a true testament to how tight the competition is in the league. Abby Van Maaren, Katie Martin and Jennifer Skolaski are ranked 12th, 20th and 21st in the league in the 50-yard freestyle with times of 23.78, 24.13 and 24.16 respectively. Yet, all three swimmers are within a second and a half of the conferences best performance of 2004-05.
The Hawkeyes also draw strength from and will look for some team points in the backstroke events. Skolaski and Kelly Werner are a one-two punch in both the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard backstroke. Skolaski's top time in the 100-yarder was 56.41, while Werner pulled in a 56.70 in the same event. In the 200-yard event, Skolaski ranked seventh in the league while Werner was in eighth place taping in at 2:01.12 and 2:01.63 respectively. Skolaski has also been showing off her talents in the 200-yard and 400-yard individual medleys. In the 200-yard IM she recorded a top time of 2:06.21 and in the 400-yard IM, she topped out at 4:38.92. Katelyn Eustis had the top Hawkeye time in the 400-yard IM at 4:31.85.
Nancilea Underwood set a school record in the three-meter diving competition against Truman State with a total score of 348.25. Underwood will also compete in the one-meter competition where she posted a top score of 332.03 on January 22nd.
The defending Big Ten Conference Champions will look to make it two in a row for the first time since the 1997 and 1998 championships - the last two of U-M's 10 consecutive conference crowns. Depth is the strong suit for the Wolverines this season. In the 50-yard freestyle Michigan has five swimmers in the top 17 in the conference and all under 24 seconds. Kaitlyn Brady leads this group and currently holds this conference's top spot in event this season with a time of 23.03. Susan Gilliam is one of the top freestyle swimmers in the Big Ten when to comes to the longer distances. In the 200, 500, 1000 and 1650-yard freestyle events she is second in the league with times of 1:48.61, 4:45.02, 9:45.89 and 16:17.43, respectively. In the 1,650 she has already qualified for the NCAA championships with an "A" standard.
In addition to her speed in the freestyle events, Brady is also at the top of her game in the backstroke events. Brady is third in the Big Ten in both the 100-yard and 200-yard events with times of 55.98 in the 100-yard backstroke and 1:59.91 in the 200-yard backstroke. Brady is also the team leader in the 100-yard butterfly where she tapped in with a top season time of 55.10 - which was good enough for second in the league this season. Justine Mueller gives the Maize and Blue a strong presence in the individual medleys. In the 200-yard IM she is third in the league with a top time of 2:01.90, while in the 400-yard IM she sits second at 4:19.14.
Michigan State Spartans
Tammy Jones and Tesla Hughes lead the Spartans into this years swimming and diving championships in Bloomington, Indiana. A senior, Jones leads the team with top times in five different events: the 100-yard freestyle (50.31), 200-yard freestyle (1.53.78), 100-yard butterfly (55.43), 200-yard individual medley (2:06.04) and 400-yard individual medley (4:31.91). Meanwhile, Hughes has punctuated her junior season by leading the team in three freestyle events: the 500-yard, 1000-yard and 1,650-yard with times of 5:00.21, 10:18.84 and 17:05.48 respectively.
Both MSU's 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relay teams are in the top five of the conference and could compete for a Big Ten title as well as give the Spartans some added points in the team competition. On the diving boards, Danielle Williams, Amy Schmidt and Katie Edwards are the top three divers for Michigan State with Williams holding the top score in three separate diving events.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
In over half of the events that will be featured at this week's swimming and diving championships the Golden Gophers will have a swimmer who is ranked in the top ten in the conference this season. In addition, Minnesota saw several school records broken during the regular season. Six new top times were set in the school annals with two additional records being broken in the relay events.
Perhaps the Golden Gophers' biggest strength is those relay event teams, which have turned in times that rank in the top four in the league in four of the five events this season. Individually, Kate Hardt holds the most top times of any Minnesota swimmer this season in the 50-yard freestyle (23.24), 1000-yard freestyle (10:20.27), 1,650 yard-freestyle (17:08.10) 200-yard IM (2:04.14) and the 400-yard IM (4:23.70). Erin O'Neil leads the team in the butterfly events with a 56.34 in the 100-yard and a 2:04.87 in the 200-yard. Bridget McCoy and Katie Wind are the top performers in the breaststroke and backstroke respectively.
A dual meet record of 8-2 was the highlight of the season for the Wildcats. Northwestern enters this week's championships with momentum on its side after recent wins over Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State. What could be more important for NU than its stellar 2004-05 record is the confidence those wins could give the Wildcats against Big Ten competition they have already proven they can defeat.
Freshman Andrea Hupman is the top sprinter for the Wildcats entering this year's championships. Hupman turned in the top times in the 50-yard freestyle (23.45), the 100-yard freestyle (50.12) and the 200-yard freestyle (1:49.05). Those times place her in the top ten in the conference in all three events and third in the league in the 100-yard freestyle, just 13-hundredths of a second behind the top time in the Big Ten this season. Katie Paglini, Brielle Bovee, Katie Braun and Cristy Olin all rank near the tops of the conference in their respective events and should all contend for medals this year.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Griet Buelens and Nicole Maglich are the top two simmers for the Buckeyes in the long freestyle races. The tandem stands in the top half of the league in the 200, 500, 1,000 and 1,650 freestyle events. Buelens a freshman and Maglich a junior are also vital members of OSU's relay teams which will look to swipe an award or two during the championships.
Buelens will also be featured in both butterfly events where she holds season best times of 56.52 and 2:01.52 in the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard butterfly, respectively. Senior Kylie Lancken will look to close out her collegiate career with a Big Ten title in the backstroke events. In the 100-yard backstroke she turned in an Ohio State season best 58.72, while she finished the 200-yard backstroke in 2:04.52 - also an OSU season best.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Like Ohio State, the Nittany Lions also pack a tough one-two punch in many of the similar events. Margy Keefe and Nikki Collins are both ranked in the top five in three freestyle events; the 500-yard, 1000-yard and 1650-yard races. However, the two sophomores aren't alone in being at the top of the Big Ten in times during the 2004-05 season. Fellow sophomore Erin Morris is in the top 15 in the 500 and 1000-yard freestyle while sophomore Claire Hawley stands sixth in the1650-yard freestyle. In addition, Keefe made the "A" standard in the 1,650-yard freestyle for the NCAA championships.
More Nittany Lions can be found in the top of the conference performances for this season including Morris in the 200-yard backstroke and Sarah Haupt in the 100-yard backstroke. Kristin Woodring and Courtney Stantchock will be a force in the breaststroke events where they are in the top 10 in the league. Additionally, those top swimmers make up some formidable relay squads which could help propel Penn State to its first Big Ten title since 2002.
Entering this week's championships at Indiana, Purdue arguably boasts the top freestyle sprinters in the Big Ten. Susan Hentschel, Christine Leupold and Tracy Duchac all are at the top of the league in times this season. In the 50-yard freestyle, Leupold and Duchac are tied for second with a top time of 23.11 on the season. In the 100-yard freestyle Hentschel and Leupold hold the first and second slots with times of 49.99 and 50.05 respectively. In the 200-yard freestyle the seniors flip places with Leupold timing in at 1:48.61 and Hentschel at 1:48.83.
Sophomore Carlene Takaki holds the top spot in the 200-yard butterfly this season with a time of 2:00.51 and is fourth in the 100-yard edition with a 55.46 top time during the regular season. Purdue could also get some needed team points from the freestyle relay events, where there top swimmers have combined for some top times in 2004-05. In the 200-yard freestyle relay the Boilermakers turned in a top conference mark of 1:31.85 while in the 400-yard freestyle relay Purdue was second in the Big Ten with a time of 3:22.75.
Olympic gold medalist Carly Piper leads the Badgers into the Big Ten Conference championships with the hope of bringing some individual and team trophies to go along side her gold from Athens. Piper is the top swimmer in the league in the 200-yard freestyle (1:47.08), the 500-yard freestyle (4:42.25) and the 1000-yard freestyle (9:45.77). Piper has also already made the "A" standard for the NCAA championships in all three events. In addition, Piper will be the main cog in the four by four-hundred-yard relay team - the event for which she won gold this past summer. As a team, UW holds three of the top relay times from the 2004-04 campaign.
Susan Johnson represents another strength for the Badgers in the backstroke events. Johnson is at the top of the league in both the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke with times of 53.66 and 1:55.32, respectively. The sophomore was also the conferences fastest swimmer in the 100-yard butterfly during the regular season at 53.64 and made the "A" standard in all three events. Amalia Sarnecki is another weapon in the Badgers arsenal. The junior leads the league in the 100-yard (1:01.65) and 200-yard (2:12.01) backstroke events and also qualified as an "A" standard. Anna Trinidad is also at the top of the times list this season in the 200-yard individual medley with a 1;59.92, also sending her to the NCAA championships with an "A" standard.