Men’s swimmers glide to easy win

by Ryan Schuster

Gophers men’s swimming coach Dennis Dale wore a look of concern as he nervously paced beside the University Aquatic Center pool Saturday night.
Looking at Dale you would never guess that his No. 11 Gophers swim team was in the midst of dispatching No. 16 Nebraska by a convincing 50 points. Minnesota won the meet’s first five events and nine of 16 overall en route to a 175-125 victory over the Cornhuskers.
“I was concerned before the meet because we had performed so well against North Carolina,” Dale explained. “I felt we were going to win (against Nebraska), but I was surprised that we won by that margin.”
The Gophers’ record improved to 2-0 on the season with the win. Minnesota’s other win came against the No. 14 Tar Heels. Nebraska was handed its first defeat of the year after opening with wins over No. 8 Southern Methodist University and unranked Texas Christian University.
Minnesota’s Manolis Lentaris led the team with three wins Saturday. Lentaris captured the 200-, 500- and 1,000-yard freestyle titles.
Sophomore Martin Zielinski won the 100 and 200 backstroke events and also swam on the victorious 200 medley relay team, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation. Jonathan McLeod and Oscar Godoi also notched victories in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke respectively.
The Gophers’ fast start was a key ingredient in the victory.
“I think when you’re three events into the meet and Minnesota has won all three events, it gives us a psychological edge.” Dale said.
As the team gained momentum from winning the first five events, an uncharacteristically large crowd at the Aquatic Center started to get into the action for the Gophers.
“The crowd was into it,” Zielinski said. “We had a significant amount of fans compared to what we usually have. It felt pretty good to swim in our own pool.”
More than 130 fans packed the right side of the building.
The Gophers hope they get that much crowd support when they host the Minnesota Invitational this weekend at the Aquatic Center. Iowa State, Wisconsin, Utah, Florida International, North Dakota, St. Olaf and Gustavus will all compete with the Gophers Friday through Saturday.