After a three-week absence from competition, Minnesota men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams return to action well-rested and ready to make a statement as they conclude the first half of the season.
The men’s team continued to practice during the break but slowed the intensity down this week to prepare for the Ohio State Invitational this weekend.
“We’ve worked pretty solidly without taking a lot of rest before any meets. Now with this meet we’re going to rest for a few days,” head coach Dennis Dale said. “They’ll go over there without the same kind of fatigue they’ve been swimming with in previous meets.”
Although more rest doesn’t seem like the best way to train for a matchup with a Big Ten opponent, the team has used the downtime to focus more on the meet and improving their performances.
“It’s (the meet) a good way to judge how far we’ve come in the season; what points we need to see about strengthening, what points are kind of weak,” senior David Plummer said.
The Gophers rank No. 10 in the country according to the College Swim Coaches Association of America poll and will compete against conference foes Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa. Notre Dame and Denver will also participate in the meet.
The Buckeyes sit at No. 13 in the nation and hold a distinct home-pool advantage for the meet.
Ohio State can swim their entire roster in the meet while the Gophers can only send a total of 24 swimmers and divers, Dale said. As a result, Dale will call upon some swimmers to take on multiple events.
“We need to see some of our elite swimmers show the ability to swim better in more than just one event,” he said.
The fact that some swimmers will have to compete in events other than their strongest will help Dale decide relay teams for later in the season, but the meet will mainly determine the progress of the team thus far.
“We try to compare where we’re at this year with where we’ve been at other years,” Dale said. “We want to be able to say we’re way ahead of where we were a year ago.”
Women staying strong
The women’s team has also dealt with the long layoff and has maintained their highest ranking in school history in the process.
But they will continue to look for faster times at the Ohio State Invitational.
“We want to get some very fast performances, certainly season bests and see if we can get some more A cuts for the NCAAs,” co-head coach Terry Nieszner said.
Minnesota, ranked No. 9 in the polls, seeks more swimmers to reach the NCAA field through making an A cut, an automatic berth to the NCAA field.
The Gophers will also see a spattering of Big Ten foes as Iowa, Michigan State and Illinois will make the trip the Buckeyes’ pool.
“It’s a good rehearsal going into Big Tens,” Nieszner said.
The team worked on improving their speed and relay exchanges during the break, Nieszner said.
She hopes this meet will showcase the progress of the swimmers.
“Theoretically, we’d like everyone to be faster at this meet than they were at the end of last year,” she said.