Hawaii is Minnesota’s destination but they won’t be lounging on the beach

The team will escape the cold and head to competitions in Hawaii.

by Nick Gerhardt

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are going to get lei-ed over winter break.

When Minnesota travels to Hawaii to train and compete, they will likely receive the customary lei upon their arrival, but after that the serious training will begin.

The trip might sound like a vacation, but the team will have their days filled with training.

“It’s definitely not all fun and games,” junior Jenny Shaughnessy said. “There are hours and hours of training every day.”

The women will compete against California-Berkeley and Idaho on Jan. 5 in Kona while the men will face Hawaii and Wisconsin on Jan. 12 in Honolulu.

Most swimmers see the trip as an opportunity to bond with teammates since they will spend the better part of two weeks together every day.

“It definitely something to look forward to, but it’s not exactly like a vacation,” senior Tyler Schmidt said. “It’s definitely a time for team building.”

Schmidt and Shaughnessy know hard work awaits them in Hawaii, but said they will have time to sightsee as well if they are not too tired from training.

“They think they’ll have down time to sightsee, but normally they’re so tired they don’t want to do anything,” women’s co-head coach Kelly Kremer said.

The women will practice and compete in an outdoor pool in Kona which gives people in the community an opportunity to watch Minnesota swim.

The meet in Hawaii gives the team a chance to break the monotony of campus life, Kremer said, while working on little things like stroke technique and turns to better prepare them for the second half of the season.

The Gophers completed the first half of the season with a bang, as they destroyed the competition at the Ohio State Invitational meet two weeks ago.

Many men’s and women’s swimmers qualified for the NCAA championships in that meet and the women broke seven school records.

Junior Yuen Kobayashi and freshman Jillian Tyler led the way for Minnesota as they broke a combined three school records.

The women still hold their highest ranking in school history after the first half of the season and will focus on maintaining that success in the second half.

“A lot of the meets are now sticking to consistent performances,” Shaughnessy said.

For the men the emphasis now becomes improving their earlier marks in an attempt to defend their Big Ten championship.

“A lot of guys are going at their best times right now, but in the second half it’s going to be what else you can do to go faster,” Schmidt said.

The men’s team has had to adjust after losing a number of key performers from last year and that transition has been eased in different events this year.

The freestyle event has been the strength for the Gophers in the past and this year they haven’t performed as well, but the contributors in that event are improving and other events are stronger this year.

“The freestylers are stepping up and the medley relay has really stepped up,” Schmidt said. “We’re still a real strong team.”

Minnesota will have little time to recover from the Hawaii trip when they return on Jan. 15 because they have a meet against Arizona State just four days later.

“It’s always a challenge to adjust when we come back because we’re so physically drained, but this year we have a little more time to recover,” Shaughnessy said.