Gophers taking last opportunities to prepare for Big Ten championships

The triple-dual meet this weekend will be similar to the championship roster.

With the Big Ten conference championships just around the corner, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are making final preparations before heading into their triple dual meet this weekend.

Minnesota will face conference foes Wisconsin and Purdue Friday and Saturday in the Boilermakers’ pool.

The roster traveling to Purdue this weekend will resemble the roster that will participate in the conference championships that take place at the end of February.

“We have this meet and the Minnesota Challenge, then Big Tens,” coach Dennis Dale said. “It’s really important that our guys do the times they’ve talked about doing before Big Tens.”

The Gophers will have to contend against their toughest opponent since the beginning of the season when they go against the No. 12 ranked Boilermakers, but that hasn’t stopped Dale from expecting a strong meet from his team.

“We know that they’re a legitimate opponent,” Dale said. “There are 17 swimming events and I’d like to win more than 10 of them.”

Winning a majority of the events means that Minnesota will need to take some distance events, something they had trouble with against Arizona State in their last meet.

Finding victories in the distance events may be difficult because Mike Holmes – one of Minnesota’s top distance freestylers – will not make the trip to Purdue because of a conflict with school.

Although the absence of Holmes hurts, senior Tyler Schmidt believes his teammates have to perform at their highest this weekend.

“It’s one of those things where you have to be on top of your game,” Schmidt said. “They (Boilermakers) may not be the ranking that we are, but they’re going to have some good swimmers.”

Women ready for challenge

Minnesota hasn’t performed great in the triple dual meet in recent years, but coming in as the highest ranked team ought to ease concerns.

The Gophers, ranked No. 8, have to contend with a No. 18 Wisconsin team that has given them trouble in the past.

“This is always a challenging meet for us,” co-head coach Kelly Kremer said.

Last year Minnesota split the triple dual meet, beating Purdue, but losing to the Badgers by 89 points.

Although a win against Wisconsin would avenge last year’s loss, Kremer wants his team feeling good heading into the final stretch.

“This is really our last major competition heading into Big Tens, so it’s just more about learning everything we can about our races and make any changes we feel necessary going into the Big Ten championships,” Kremer said.