Feb. 17, 2009
Canham Natatorium and the University of Michigan will play host to the 2009 Big Ten Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. Competition begins on Wednesday with the 200-yard medley relay and concludes on Saturday with the 400 freestyle relay. This year’s event will feature some of the top-ranked squads in the NCAA. In the latest CSCAA poll, six Big Ten teams are among the top-25. Minnesota, 2008 champion, leads the conference contingent at No. 10 while No. 13 Indiana, No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 15 Penn State follow closely behind. Rounding out the group are No. 23 Northwestern and No. 25 Michigan.
Illinois looks to improve upon its 11th-place finish at last year’s championships with some veteran leadership from senior Marissa Clapp and juniors Kyla Bacthell and Cece Marizu.
Indiana hopes to get back on top of the podium as they were in 2007 behind some talented individuals. 2008 Olympian Christina Loukas set the all-time mark this season for most career Big Ten Diver of the Week awards with 11. The senior will team up with 2008 Diver of the Year Brittney Feldman as the duo have a chance to score major points. Hoosier Kate Zubkova has an opportunity to pull off a double win in the 100 and 200 backstrokes as she owns the conference’s top times in each.
Iowa will rely on the experience of seniors Alison Gschwend and Ashley Dell and junior Christine Kuczek.
Michigan will set its sights on the top prize this year after earning runner-up honors last season. Piloting the Wolverines at the 2009 event will be last year’s 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley champion Margaret Kelly.
Danielle Williams of Michigan State returns as the only Spartan to record a top-eight finish at last year’s meet as she hopes to guide MSU to improve its 10th-place showing from year ago.
Minnesota welcomes back Freshman of the Year Jillian Tyler as she pulled off a double-win last year in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. Senior Jenny Shaughnessy also returns as the Big Ten champion in her specialty, the 400 individual medley.
Northwestern will look to juniors Kassia Shishkoff and Emily Wong. The duo have been hitting top times all year and hope to keep the Wildcats in the top half of the final team standings.
As in 2008, Ohio State will lean on its divers to tally points. The Buckeyes return sophomore Kristen Asman who earnred runner-up honors from the platform.
Penn State seniors Kelly Nelson and Kaitlin O’Brien look to improve the Nittany Lions’ fourth-place showing from last season as the two rank within the Big Ten’s top 10 of their respective events.
Much like OSU, Purdue houses a wealth of diving talent to carry the Boilermakers higher than their seventh-place performance last year.
The Badgers have great potential for points with freshman Beckie Thompson as she owns the conference’s top-50 freestyle time. Senior Christine Zwiegers also owns the top Big Ten time in the 100 butterfly.