Led by a strong combination of returning veterans and first year standouts, the Gustavus women’s swimming and diving team looks to be a contender yet again for the MIAC Championship. The Gusties have won three of the last four league titles. The 2011 MIAC Championships held at the Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota on Feb 17-19.
“We had a really good regular season. Talent wise, we are as good of a team as we have ever been, but the conference has gotten a lot stronger,” said Head Coach Jon Carlson. He expects a five-team battle at the top between Carleton, St. Olaf, St. Thomas, and Saint Ben’s. “It is amazing how much St. Olaf has improved in one year and Carleton has really come on strong in January. On top of that, St. Thomas is swimming great right now and we know Saint Ben’s is going to taper like crazy.”
The Gusties return All-Conference performers Dajana Vidovic, Sarah Hund, Carley Mosher, Anika Erickson, Steph Korba, Marnie Luke, and Serena Elthon. Sophomore Carley Mosher is the top returning swimmer from last season. Mosher will look to defend her title in the 200 IM and 200 backstroke. She enters the MIAC Championships as the top swimmer in both the 500 free (5:14.74) and 200 IM (2:13.77). Mosher also ranks third in the 200 back (2:10.91), and fourth in the 100 back (59.70).
Junior Steph Korba is the reigning MIAC Champion in the 100 and 200 butterfly. She currently ranks fifth in both the 100 (1:01.55) and 200 butterfly (2:18.28). Seniors Anika Erickson and Marnie Luke are Gustavus’ other two defending champions from a year ago. Luke won the 400 IM, while Erickson is a two-time champion in the 200 breaststroke. Erickson ranks seventh in the 200 breaststroke (2:33.12), while Luke also ranks seventh in the 400 IM (4:54.03).
The Gusties have great depth in the freestyle races with talented veterans Dajana Vidovic, Sarah Hund, Serena Elthon, and junior Melissa Aune. Vidovic has the third fastest time in the 100 (54.04), while ranking fourth in the 200 (1:58.40) and sixth in the 50 (24.71). Hund is third in the 50 (24.32) and fifth in the 100 (54.15). Elthon enters ranked fourth in the 50 (24.61), while Aune is third in the 1000 (11:03.79). Newcomers Alissa Tinklenberg, Kelsey Lucia, and Brogan Barr will also look to make a splash in the freestyle. Tinklenberg has recorded a top-five time in four freestyle races including the 200 (3rd, 1:58.09), 500 (2nd, 5:15.43), 1000 (4th, 11:05.13), 1650 (1st, 18:16.62). Lucia has the fastest time in the 100 (53.01) and is ranked second in the 50 (24.24). Barr ranks second in the 1650 (18:25.62), fifth in the 500 (5:18.31), and fourth in the 400 IM (4:50.80).
First-year Laura Drake will add depth in both the breaststroke and individual medley races. She holds the second fastest mark in both the 200 (2:13.81) and 400 IM (4:48.06) races. Drake is also ranked second in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.48) and third in the 200 breaststroke (2:29.72.).
In the diving competition, Coach Carlson expects solid scores from a balanced trio of divers in senior Darcy Reller, junior Alicia Alvarado, and first-year Haley Totzke.
The Gusties will need to put together a complete meet from top to bottom in order to compete for a championship according to Carlson. “We need everybody to swim well. It is one of those years where it is not going to be your top kids who will carry you, its going to be the depth that you have,” said Carlson. “I think the girls are ready and they are starting to come together as a team. They realize that every swimmer on the roster is important if they are going to win.”
Coach Carlson’s squad enters the conference championships as the team to beat in the freestyle relay events. Gustavus currently has the top time in the 200, 400, and 800-free relays.