The Wisconsin women’s swimming and diving team closed out the 2002 Big Ten Championship in third place Saturday by picking up three more titles. The Badgers upped their title total to seven, tying Penn State for the most by any school at this year’s conference meet.
“We got it done. Winning seven events is a huge achievement,” coach Eric Hansen said. “We’re very happy with what happened and we are looking forward to the NCAA’s.”
With only 13 swimmers and five divers, Wisconsin’s roster is one of the smallest in the Big Ten, but the Badgers’ talent rose to the top and UW improved on its fifth-place finish a year ago. Wisconsin finished with 447 points, behind Penn State and Indiana.
On Saturday, freshman Carly Piper completed her phenomenal performance at the championship with a title in the 1,650 free, Freshman of the Year and Swimmer of the Championship honors. Piper’s four Big Ten titles at one meet are the most by a Badger in school history. Ellen Stonebraker won three titles in 1999 and 2001.
“Carly Piper proved that she was the class of the meet,” Hansen said.
However, Wisconsin’s frosh firepower didn’t end with Piper. Her fellow classmate Shannon Van Curen added to the UW title count with a victory in the 100 free. Van Curen, who took the top spot in the prelims, didn’t back down in the finals, winning in 50.08.
“Van Curen winning the 100 free was a huge achievement for her,” Hansen said.
The Badgers closed out the meet the way they opened it, with a relay title. Van Curen, Bethany Pendleton, Sarah McCauley and Jennifer Lyman touched first in the 400 free relay in 3:19.86, a school record.
Wisconsin’s final title count of seven is a school high. The previous highest total of five came in 1978. In 21 events, the Badgers took titles in the 800 free relay, 400 free relay, 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free and 1,650 free.
“Winning all [five] individual freestyle events by three different swimmers is unheard of,” associate head coach Geoff Hanson said.
In diving, K.C. Bunnell took third on the platform and Siobhan Kernan placed eighth.