Alumni meet a good warm-up for Minnesota swimmers

The first meet of the Minnesota menâÄôs and womenâÄôs swimming and diving season opened with the Star Spangled Banner âÄî played on trumpet from the top of the 10-meter diving platform. With the anthemâÄôs closing notes, the trumpeter, dressed in a full-body racing suit, somersaulted the 10 meters to the poolâÄôs surface. The trumpeter, a program alum, traditionally opens each home meet this way, womenâÄôs co-head coach Kelly Kremer said. Though the opening was not unusual for a home meet, FridayâÄôs annual Alumni Meet proved, as it usually does, to be one of the most original meets of the season. The meet gives former and current members of the program a chance to connect, Kremer said. âÄúThis meet is just about playing and having fun and enjoying swimming with our past and our future and our present together,âÄù he said. âÄúWe do this once a year to kind of start the season with something different and fun.âÄù The oldest competitor Friday was diver Gil Calonde, Kremer said. According to menâÄôs and womenâÄôs diving coach Jason Baumann , Calonde, two months shy of 80, is an active member of the program and participates frequently in exhibition diving shows. Looking ahead Both the menâÄôs and womenâÄôs teams have a strong outlook for the 2008-09 season. âÄúI think this is probably the largest collection of talent in the sport of swimming and diving that weâÄôve had,âÄù Kremer said. âÄúI canâÄôt imagine having a stronger group of people to work with.âÄù The women took home a Big Ten championship last season and placed 13th at the NCAA meet. Although winning the Big Ten last year doesnâÄôt necessarily translate into another championship, Kremer said, he sees the team performing very well on a national level this year. MenâÄôs assistant coach Bill Tramel said, though the menâÄôs team had a large graduating class last year, improvement over the summer exceeded his expectations. He said he thinks this yearâÄôs team will be more successful than last year, when the Gophers swam to third place in the Big Ten and placed 11th at the NCAAs. âÄúWe had school records broken over the summertime, which was fantastic,âÄù he said. Baumann said he expects divers Cole Young , Drew Brown , Maggie Thomas and Taylor Enerson to perform well this year. Big Ten diving will be competitive this year, he said. Young and Brown placed third in synchronized platform at the Olympic trials this year, Baumann said. Though they failed to make the team, he expects them, and all his divers, to be successful this year. âÄúItâÄôs about getting better and improving,âÄù he said âÄúItâÄôs about how hard you work.âÄù