Men and women face tough road tests

Krista Theis

Minnesota’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams hit the road this weekend to attend two different invitational meets.

The women’s team, ranked No. 23 by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, will compete at the Georgia Invitational, while the men will travel to the Ohio State Invitational.

Coaches from both teams said they expect to face a high level of competition and are looking forward to seeing great races from their swimmers.

The best squads the women’s team will face are Georgia and California – both are ranked in the top three in the country.

“With Georgia being at home and being the type of team they are, it’s nice to be able to compete against that level of competition,” women’s coach Kelly Kremer said.

The women’s coaches said they have put together their strongest lineup and are excited to see the women swim their best events again.

In preparation for this weekend, the women’s team spent some time focusing on some of the basics of swimming.

“We’ve done a little more work this week on the small things,” Kremer said. “We’ve worked a lot on relay exchanges, starts and turns and even streamlining.”

Kremer said the team has done a little more sprinting and speed work to get ready to race, but the main focus will be its relays.

“Our freestyle relays were our strength a year ago, and I think they continue to be our strength now,” Kremer said. “So it’s going to be good for all of us to see where our relays are at this point and how they measure up against some of the better teams in the country.”

The other part of the women’s team’s preparation has been rest, senior co-captain Jenny Hasling said.

All that preparation is especially important because this weekend’s meet is going to be used as a midseason check point for the Gophers, women’s coach Terry Nieszner said.

“We are hoping to get some good swims,” Nieszner said. “But if people fall a little short it’s certainly a check point of what we need to work on heading into the championship season.”

Men compete in Ohio

For the ninth-ranked men’s team, the Ohio State Invitational features three top-25 teams, including No. 6 Arizona, No. 19 Ohio State and No. 21 Notre Dame.

It’s the final meet until the Gophers compete at the Hawaii Rainbow Invitational in January, and that’s one reason men’s coach Dennis Dale said he would like to win this meet.

Dale said the men’s team has also been resting the past week, with hopes of making this weekend its best meet of the fall.

“We rested Tuesday and Wednesday in practice for the goal of getting a little sharper for this meet to perform at an even higher level,” Dale said.

Although he said he expects great swims from all of his swimmers, Dale is especially looking forward to seeing how the freshmen perform. It is the first time they have been able to step up to the plate at a higher level, Dale said.

“We’ll see how they respond to a couple days’ rest and see if we can get them to perform at a level that looks like they’ll be able to handle Big Tens,” Dale said.