St. Peter, Minn. – On Monday, March 18, seven members of the Gustavus Adolphus men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will travel to Indianapolis – the site of the 2014 NCAA Division IIII Swimming and Diving Championships. A total 243 women spanning 55 institutions and 237 men from 55 schools will take part in the four-day meet (March 19-22) being held at the IU Natatorium in downtown Indianapolis.
The men’s team’s lone representative will be sophomore Dante Colucci (Summit, N.J.), while on the women’s side, headed to the NCAA Championships will be seniors Laura Drake (Mendota Heights, Minn.) and Alissa Tinklenberg (Willmar, Minn.), juniors Danielle Klunk (Appleton, Wis.), Katie Olson (North Oaks, Minn.), and Jennifer Strom (Rochester, Minn.), and sophomore Tarin Anding (Sartell, Minn.).
Although Dante Colucci will look to score points on his own in an attempt to put Gustavus on the scoreboard in the final standings, it is on the women’s side that there is an opportunity to turn in the Gustavus’s best team finish in team history. Head Coach Jon Carlson, now in his 24th season at the helm of the Gustavus men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs, brings his most talented, battle-tested group of female swimmers to this year’s NCAA Championships.
“We always have a program goal of finishing in the top ten at nationals,” said Carlson. “We did it by the slimmest of margins last year and this year we want to leave no doubt. The meet is so fast and so tough to get into that if we can hold time, we will probably move up. Our number one goal on an individual level is to hold on to our times at conference. If we can do that, and see some improvement, we’re going to have a fun week.”
The Gustavus women’s swimming and diving team has finished inside the top 10 twice, taking eighth (114 pts.) in 2010 and placing 10th (98 pts.) in 2013.
Carlson said that despite the fact that his women’s team had the best conference meet in the history of the program, his swimmers still found areas of improvement and got right back to work.
“The kids have been training hard and they’ve had a great attitude in the pool since winning the MIAC title,” added Carlson. “The key to success at the nationals has everything to do with their attitude at practice between conference and the NCAA Championships. This group is fired up, focused, and excited for the opportunity to represent Gustavus on the national stage.”
Gustavus won the 2014 MIAC Championships with a program-record 886.5 points in mid-February. The victory completed the “Drive For Five,” a slogan coined by the team at the start of the year when it initially set its sights on winning a fifth consecutive conference title.
The Black and Gold will be led by senior Alissa Tinklenberg who was named the MIAC Women’s Swimmer-of-the-Year for the second straight season after her performance at the MIAC Championships. Tinklenberg – who owns a school-record seven All-American performances – looks to add to her resume this week with a strong chance at claiming a spot on the podium in three separate individual races. She ranks second in the 50 freestyle with a qualifying time of 23.18, third in the 100 backstroke with a 55.01, and fourth in the 200 backstroke with a 1:59.59.
Jennifer Strom, a three-time All-American and three-time individual champion at this season’s conference meet, will also seek the podium in the breaststroke races where she ranks seventh in the 100 with a time of 1:03.58 and third in the 200 with a time of 2:17.11. Strom is also ranked 27th in the 400 IM with a 4:33.76.
Katie Olson rounds out the group of Gustie veterans returning to the NCAA Championships. Olson won the MIAC title in the 100 free and helped the squad to four relay victories. At the individual level, the four-time All-American Olson heads into the week ranked 10th in the 50 free (23.51) and 12th in the 100 free (51.37).
In her first season as a Gustie, University of Iowa transfer Danielle Klunk ranks 23rd in the 200 IM (2:06.96), 25th in the 100 butterfly (56.91), and 25th in the 200 butterfly (2:06.45). Laura Drake will swim in the 200 IM (26th, 2:07.11) and 100 breaststroke (1:05.26), and Tarin Anding will compete in the 100 breaststroke (32nd, 1:05.58).
This season’s group of six female competitors has a collected a total of 15 All-America honors at the NCAA Championships.
The team’s male representative, Dante Colucci, will swim in a total of three races over the week. Colucci will shoot for a spot in the top 10 in the 100 backstroke where he currently ranks 11th with a time of 49.62. He will also go in the 200 back (26th, 1:50.40) and 50 free (54th, 22.38).
Gustavus is slated to pick up the majority of its points from the relays as it ranks inside the top five in four of the five events. The Gusties sit fourth in the 200-medley relay (1:43.57), 200-free relay (1:33.83), and 400-medley relay (3:46.87), fifth in the 400-free relay (3:26.77), and 18th in the 800-free relay (7:41.15).
“The cool thing about this group is that it’s loaded with racers – individuals who love to race and thrive on challenging the person next to them,” Carlson said about what excites him most about this year’s national competitors. “They want to beat people around them and that’s only going to help them swim faster in the end. It’s going to be exciting because when you are that competitive, it allows you to pull out some special performances. I expect a few of those this week.”
The Gusties will arrive in Indianapolis on Monday, March 17. The team will practice at the IU Natatorium in the afternoon on Tuesday, March 18 and then attend the NCAA Championship Banquet later in the night at 6:30 p.m. The meet will begin on Wednesday, March 19 with swimming preliminaries taking place at 10:00 a.m. and swimming finals starting at 6:00 p.m.
For complete meet information including directions, psych sheets, and a full meet schedule, please follow the links below. The 2014 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships will also be streamed online at NCAA.com.
To give fans of behind the scenes look at this year’s NCAA Championships, Sports Information Director Ethan Armstrong will be with the Gustavus swimmers in Indianapolis. Over the course of the four-day meet, Armstrong will be blogging, posting pictures and video, and providing day-by-day recaps of all the action.