To give Gustavus fans a behind the scenes peak at the 2013 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, assistant coach Luke Weyandt will be writing a daily blog detailing the experience of the six Gustie swimmers competing. To signify when Luke installs a new post, a chronological number (i.e. I, II, III) will be placed at the end of each headline.
Monday, March 18th
The six national qualifiers for the Gustavus women’s swimming and diving team left for the NCAA Championships being held in Shenandoah, Texas tonight. Waiting in the new Delta terminal at MSP airport, the girls were nothing but smiles and giggles throughout the wait. Freshmen Tarin Anding, Sophomores Katie Olson, Jenny Strom, Kayla Hutsell, Junior Alissa Tinklenberg, and Senior Sarah Hund were all very excited for their flight and to arrive in Houston. The flight was filled with laughter as others sitting around them questioned where they were going and why. Coaches Jon Carlson, Alex Lindstrom and I looked on these interactions with smiles. Upon arrival in Houston, the ladies were greeted by limo driver Omar. They were ecstatic to find out their ride to the Spring Hills Suite hotel was to be in a limo. Nostalgia set in as the girls set foot in the hotel. It was the same hotel company and set up as their training trip in Vero Beach, Florida earlier this year. With the aqua themed lounge and rooms with a separate hang out space, the girls felt right at home. Time to settle in and get some sleep!
Tuesday, March 19th
8:30a.m. – Sleep in time believe it or not. The girls wake up for breakfast and go grocery shopping for food for the week. Lunch at Panera Bread proved interesting due to the gigantic wasp that landed on Tarin Anding’s back. It flew away after several screams from the group and a local man at another table told her it was a sign of good luck for her swims that she didn’t get stung. Several other bees teased at Jenny Strom and Alissa Tinklenberg and Alex Lindstrom and I got some good laughs out of the experience.
With practice at 1:00 p.m. the team got to see the competition pool for the first time. They got used to the water, working on turns, stroke technique, starts and relay exchanges. The team was especially excited about the new pink shammies and bright blue water bottles they received. Coach Carlson was also excited for his new travel glass the girls gave him.
Later that night the coaches and athletes got ready for the NCAA Championships Banquet. They held the banquet under a huge tent in the parking lot right next to the pool. As the girls entered the tent they saw every national qualifier from schools around the nation. The team arrived in style as all six donned dresses and cowboy boots. They met the mayor of Shenandoah and he even complemented them on their cowboy boots! The evening consisted of socializing with other teams including other national qualifiers from conference schools St. Thomas and St. Olaf. The meal consisted of a nice pasta, cajun spiced chicken, spiced green beans, salad, buns, and ice tea. The tent also had team picture areas, one with an NCAA backdrop and the other with a riding bull that most teams enjoyed. The banquet’s speaker was Laura Wilkinson, a gold medalist in 10m platform diving at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She spoke to the athletes about her personal experiences leading up to the 2000 Olympic trials and Olympics. The Gustie girls enjoyed her speech and thought it spoke highly to their personal goals this week in Shenandoah. With prelims beginning at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, the ladies are excited to hit the water. Top 16 qualifiers come back and compete at night with finals starting at 6:00 p.m.
Live webcast can be found at the following link:
Wednesday, March 20th
9:27 p.m. - Today marked the first day of official swimming for the Gustavus Women’s swimmers. At 7:30 a.m., the athletes started off with breakfast and headed to the pool. Four athletes had three races today. Alissa Tinklenberg in the 500 free, Katie Olson in the 50 free, and Tinklenberg, Jenny Strom, Kayla Hutsell, and Olson in the 200-medley relay. Individually, Tink finished 21st in the 500 free with a 5:01.13 and Olson finished 31st in the 50 free with a 24.04. Tink and Olson were both happy with their performances saying they were both glad they got a swim in. Sometimes the first swim at the NCAA Championships, or any big meet for that matter, can be a bit nerve-racking. All four swam well to start the four-day competition.
The highlight of the preliminary meet came from the 200-medley relay. The Gusties finished 10th after the morning session, getting another chance to swim at consolation finals later in the day. The relay team of Tinklenberg, Strom, Hutsell, and Olson went a 1:45.65 setting a new school record! The girls and the coaches were excited with the performance and proud of the group. Today’s swim breaks the old record set in 2010 by Carley Mosher, Maggie Hansvick, Stephanie Korba, and Sarah Hund who went a 1:45.72. Later that night, the group held their 10th place position in the consolation heat with a 1:45.93.
Tomorrow all six Gustie women have swims in three different events. The 200-free relay with Olson, Hund, Tarin Anding, and Tinklenberg; Jenny Strom will be swimming the 400 individual medley; and Tinklenberg, Strom, Hutsell, and Olson in the 400-medley relay. The Gusties are currently tied for 17th in the team standing after day one. This is a good place to be for Gustavus after what we considered the weakest day of the four. The girls are pleased with their performance in the opening day. The ladies are focused and are having a great time in Texas.
Thursday, March 21st
10:00 a.m. - Today was an amazing day for the Gustavus Women’s Swimming Team!! The day started off with three swims: the 200-freestyle relay (Katie Olson, Sarah Hund, Tarin Anding, and Alissa Tinklenberg), Jenny Strom in the 400 individual medley, and the 400-medley relay (Tinklenberg, Strom, Kayla Hutsell, and Olson). The 200-free relay team was seeded seventh going into the meet. It was in the fourth and final heat. The ladies edged out Amherst by .05 seconds to place eighth and make it into the championship final later in the day. The girls were very excited knowing they had the opportunity to be All-Americans (the top eight finishers in the championship final to complete the race successfully are given the All-American Honor with the next eight finishers named All-American Honorable Mention). Jenny swam the 400 Individual Medley and placed 23rd with a time of 4:35.12, a lifetime best for her by :04 seconds. Finally the 400-medley relay swam very well in prelims. They edged out M.I.T. to finish eighth after being seeded 10th going into the meet, so a move up in prelims to get top eight was especially rewarding.
6:00 p.m. – The girls had two swims going in the night session finals. All six of them were in the two relays tonight. Seeded eighth after prelims, the 200-free relay of Olson, Hund, Anding, and Tinklenberg went a 1:35.02 and finished seventh to beat Williams! The four are now officially All-Americans! The 400-medley relay also did well and got eighth after touching the wall in 3:51.67. In prelims the relay went a 3:50.86 which set a new school record by .02 seconds. The previous record was set last year by Alissa, Jenny, Stephanie Korba, and Katie. The current record is now held by Alissa, Jenny, Kayla, and Katie. All four also received All-American honors!
Yesterday the Gustie women were sitting 17th after day one. After today’s successes, the team is in ninth!
Tomorrow we have Alissa in the 100 backstroke, Jenny in the 100 breaststroke, and the 800-freestyle relay of Tarin, Sarah, Katie, and Jenny. Thanks for reading and thank you to everyone who watched in the caf tonight!
Friday, March 22nd
9:59 p.m. - Today was yet another strong day for the Gustavus women! In prelims there were three swims. Alissa Tinklenberg in the 100-yard backstroke, Jenny Strom in the 100-yard breaststroke, and the 800-freestyle relay of Katie Olson, Tarin Anding, Sarah Hund, and Jenny Strom. The morning went well. Tinklenberg went a 56.35 and moved up to 12th from her original seed of 14th. Strom went a 1:03.92 to place sixth. The 800-freestyle relay finished in 7:49.84 and placed 19th.
This set up Tinklenberg and Strom to score some solid points for the Gusties at finals later in the night. Tink dropped .01 seconds to swim a 56.34 in finals and secured five more points for the Gusties with a 12th place finish. She said she was very happy with her placement considering a tough field in the 100 backstroke this season as her time this year would have been top eight last season. Strom dropped more time in finals in the 100 breaststroke and moved up one spot to fifth after recording a 1:03.75. With the fifth place finish, Jenny receives All-American honors for the second time this weekend!
The Gusties gained 19 points on the day and held their ninth place spot overall with 79 points and are currently tied with Grove City. Senior Sarah Hund mentioned of the weekend, “This is the most fun I’ve had at nationals. The girls have really bonded over the meet so far. We are excited with our position going into the last day.” The girls have also been wearing their “Race for Grace” caps and have given a few shout outs to their teammate Grace Goblirsch who is battling leukemia right now. They miss her dearly and all of their races have had a little bit extra for Grace!
The ladies have four swims left for the meet. Tomorrow we will see Tink in the 200-yard backstroke, Jenny in the 200-yard breaststroke, Katie in the 100-yard freestyle and the 400-freestyle relay to wrap up the four-day meet. Thank you for your support!
Saturday, March 23
11:59 p.m. - Today marked the final attempt for the Gustavus women to secure a spot as one of the top 10 teams in the nation. The Gusties had to show up in the prelims in order to secure solid points to help them to their goal. The goal Jon Carlson set for this group was to finish inside the top 10 and here was that shot. Last year was not a disappointment by any means, but the team finished 11th, so this year the team was excited to be in ninth going into the last day. The highest a Gustavus women’s swimming and diving team has finished was eighth in 2010.
With those goals in mind, as well as swimming to inspire and racing for Grace, the girls had incredible amounts of motivation heading into today. In morning prelims, Gustavus was set to compete in three races – Alissa Tinklenberg in the 200 backstroke, Jenny Strom in the 200 breaststroke, and the 400 freestyle relay of Katie Olson, Sarah Hund, Tarin Anding, and Tinklenberg. Alissa started the morning off with a solid swim of 1:59.66. This is her lifetime best and an MIAC record! She was sitting in fifth after the morning session. Jenny Strom had a solid swim, but the field around her took off in her heat and it was hard for her to catch back up. Strom ended the meet as a two-time All-American. Finally the relay of Olson, Hund, Anding and Tinklenberg had a great swim with a new school record! Their time and new record is 3:28.62. Katie Olson also had a lifetime best lead-off in the 100 freestyle with a 52.07. The relay team was sitting in 12th going into finals.
The team’s biggest competition to stay in ninth going into finals was Grove City. Grove City had an athlete in the top eight in the finals of the 100 freestyle and its 400-freestyle relay was also seventh going into the night session. Grove City outscored the Gustie women with their two swims if you score out the meet before hand. With that in mind, the Gustie women were competing for 10th place against Wheaton College (Ill.). In the finals, Tinklenberg finished sixth which tops her finish from last year by one place. Tink was very excited about her swim and has goals to finish in the top three next season. Going into the last relay the Gustie women had to finish within three spots of Wheaton to solidify their 10th place standing. If the Gusties finished within exactly four spots and no more, they would tie for 10th. The relay put up a time of 3:28.83 and finished 14th to tie Wheaton and finish inside the top 10.
The coaches are extremely proud of the six girls and their time here in Shenandoah. Their hard work throughout the season has paid off. They couldn’t have done it without the support of 90 other teammates as well as the parents who have traveled down to support them. We thank you all for your support the whole season. Their performance and attitude demonstrates Gustie pride.
Senior Sarah Hund couldn’t have said it better about this year’s NCAA Championships, stating, “This is the most fun I’ve had at a national in my four years at Gustavus”. With the conclusion of her collegiate career, tears streamed down her face; anyone could see that Gustavus is a place that inspires many people, and the lives of Gusties, truly inspire others.