Rigorous training helps men’s swim team

by Ryan Schuster

The goals of most male college students for winter break include, sleeping, watching sporting events on TV and eating a lot of turkey. Not the Gophers men’s swimming and diving teams, though.
“One of the major things we attempt to come out of our winter training trip with is to be in the best condition that any of our team has been in,” Coach Dennis Dale said. “I think the team returned in the best shape of their lives.”
Instead of sitting around and taking winter break off, the Gophers were busy doing two-a-day workouts to prepare for the beginning of the bulk of their schedule, which includes the start of the Big Ten schedule. That’s not to say that their hard work over the break didn’t carry a price with it.
“The last couple of days everyone was really dragging because it’s just swim, swim, swim, lift weights, then swim some more,” Jeremy Rients said. “I think everyone was pretty tired.”
Minnesota went on a week-and-a-half-long training trip to Florida, had a few days off for the holidays, and then went right back at it for the next week and a half.
There were also many positives that accompanied the team’s trip. The team got plenty of quality training and was finally able to focus all its attention on swimming after spending the previous two and a half months trying to juggle both swimming and school.
“We were down there for 10 days and all you have to concentrate on is swimming,” Rients said. “You don’t have to worry about school or anything else. All you have to do is swim. It makes it a lot easier when you are practicing.”
As well as having more time to devote to swimming, the Gophers also came home with another victory. Minnesota improved to 4-0 on the season after defeating Miami on Dec. 22. Minnesota also competed against Clemson, who did not score themselves at the meet.
The Gophers showed just how good they are this season in the Miami meet, as it was scored through the top three places and not the top five places, which negated Minnesota’s depth advantage.
They also started the meet down 16-0 because their divers did not make the trip with the team. Gophers diving coach Kongzheng Li was in Japan over the break teaching a diving clinic, forcing the divers to stay home and practice at the University Aquatic Center. Dale said none of that seemed to faze them, though.
“We had some real good performances in the Miami pool,” he said. “We had to come back from them slamming us in diving and the scoring system. It made it tougher, but it was a more challenging win that way.”
Two years ago the team went to Hawaii and last year it was in Puerto Rice for its annual winter training trip. This year’s journey, however, seemed to go just as well if not better than in year’s past.
“Every training trip is a little different,” junior Eriek Hulseman said. “There’s different things you have to overcome, and there’s different advantages. I think it was one of the best I’ve had. I got more out of it than I did any other year.”
The Gophers won’t get much of a break in the near future. They will compete against No. 24 Kansas on Friday and at the Gold Country Invitational on Saturday, both at the Aquatic Center. On Jan. 18, the team kicks off its Big Ten season on the road at Northwestern.
“Kansas is a good team,” Dale said. “They are going to pose some challenges for us. We are not going to do anything out of the ordinary to prepare for them. We are going to try to beat Kansas while keeping one eye on the Big Ten championship.”
Team Hopeful of Signings
Dale confirmed last week that Minnesota will get two international incoming freshmen to commit to the team this month.
Both swimmers want to go to college in the United States, but did not pass the English language portion of the NCAA Clearinghouse eligibility standards. Dale hopes to have both on the team in the future.
Minnesota signed two recruits in the fall and would like to add two or three more this spring. The late signing period starts April 8 and runs until Aug. 1.