A cold yet victorious welcome home for Gophers swimmers

Back from Hawaii, the Gophers adjusted to the cold with a win over Arizona State.

It wasn’t the best welcome-back for Minnesota but the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams persevered to dismantle Arizona State on Saturday inside the University Aquatic Center.

Having returned from Hawaii on Wednesday, the Gophers were greeted with below-zero temperatures and decided to put the freeze on the Sun Devils as the men cruised to a 173-110 victory and the women swam to a 170-129 win.

“It seems like every year it’s about a 100-degree shift in weather from like, 80 degrees in Hawaii to negative 20 degrees wind chill here,” senior Tyler Schmidt said. “It’s a little different throwing on eight layers of clothes from board shorts.”

With just three days to readjust to the cold and time change, the men got two victories apiece from junior Colin Lee-To, senior Russ Payne and freshman Curt Carlson.

Lee-To won the 100-yard breaststroke and set a personal best in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.15.

Payne, meanwhile, won the 100 and 200 backstroke events with times of 49.35 and 1:47.33 respectively.

Carlson has become an integral contributor in his first year and continued his success by winning the 100 and 200 freestyle events, setting a season best in the 100 with a time of 44.74.

“Our mid-distance, our mid-sprinters and sprinters all did a very good job,” men’s coach Dennis Dale said. “I was happy with both the depth we showed and the up-front speed.”

Minnesota, ranked No. 9 by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, won 11 of the 16 events. Three of the five losses came in the distance events.

C.J. Nuess, a top national distance swimmer, won the 1000 and 500 freestyle along with the 400 individual medley to play spoiler on a otherwise flawless day for the Gophers.

The No. 8 ranked women fought off a feisty No. 17 ranked Sun Devil team.

Juniors Yuen Kobayashi and Stacy Busack each won two events for Minnesota and freshman Jillian Tyler added two victories as the Gophers won nine of the 16 events.

“This team continues to impress. They continue to come through at the right moments,” co-head coach Kelly Kremer said. “This is another example of a team that just wants to be successful and they keep doing the things they need to do to be successful.”

In its narrowest win of the season Kobayashi gave Minnesota the boost they needed following a loss in the 200 medley relay. Kobayashi powered her way to back-to-back victories in the 1000 freestyle and the 200 freestyle events.

Kremer admitted that before the meet he worried about the threat Arizona State posed in the sprint events, but Busack erased all concerns with her wins in the 50 and 100 freestyle.

While the sprint wins served as a nice surprise for Kremer one thing that has remain a constant has been Tyler. She has not lost a 100 breaststroke event all year and continued to dominate the breaststroke event winning both the 100 and 200.

The Gophers now have to prepare for the toughest part of their schedule as they get ready for the Big Ten championships at the end of February.

They will take two weeks off before heading to Purdue for a quad duel with conference foes.