Gophers swim teams host Minnesota Invitational with two very different plans of attack

The invitational should provide good preparation for the meets later in the year.

Krista Theis

Anticipation is high for the Minnesota men’s and women’s swimming teams going into this weekend’s meet, but both squads will head into the event with two totally different philosophies.

The Gophers will host their annual Minnesota Invitational, Friday through Sunday. The Gophers welcome 15 teams to the University Aquatic Center and will be competing in events all three days.

Both the men’s and women’s teams anticipate a competitive and exciting weekend, however each coach has a different strategy.

The men’s coach, Dennis Dale, has high hopes of winning the meet and will utilize his best swimmers to score big points in each event.

The women’s team, however, is using this weekend’s invitational to gain experience and prepare themselves for meets later in the season.

Although there won’t be a lot of pressure on Minnesota’s men’s swimmers from other teams this weekend, high expectations have been established by coaches.

“If we don’t dominate the meet I will be surprised,” Dale said.

The biggest competition that the fifth-ranked Gophers is No. 24 Wisconsin. The Badgers don’t have a lot of depth, Dale said, but they have very strong sprinters and great swimmers in the individual medley.

Five Minnesota individual medley swimmers will not only be battling against Wisconsin’s top swimmers, but also against each other. Juniors Russ Payne, Jason Timmer and David Plummer along with sophomore Evan Bernier and freshman Mark Solfelt are the top Gophers competitors in the event.

Dale said he has high expectations for his team this weekend, hoping to have five or six people score in each event.

“We need to try to double Wisconsin’s score every race,” Dale said.

He also said he would like to see Minnesota’s ‘A’ relays take first and the ‘B’ relays come in strong with second or third place finishes.

Dale said he likes invitational meets because it gives the team a chance to swim against teams that might not be as exciting in a dual situation and allows all swimmers to go up against others with the same ability level and swim close races.

While the men’s team is trying to blow the competition out of the water this weekend, the women’s team will be focusing more on details and preparation.

The Gophers have used their best lineup in all of their dual meets so far, so this invitational is the only time for the women switch things up and compete in off events according to the coaches.

Coach Terry Nieszner said this meet is a good time to see where her team is at in the season.

“Swimmers are settled down academically too, which enables the girls to focus on what needs to be done for the rest of the season,” Nieszner said.

Invitational meets give good experience for the three-day, preliminary/final meets that will be coming at the end of the season.

“It’s especially good for the freshman to get to know the way (an invitational meet) works and get used to it,” coach Kelly Kremer explained.

The coaches said they expect to see great races out of the Gophers, and are looking forward to seeing the team prepare for key meets later in the season.

As for this weekend, coach Nieszner said she is excited to welcome the teams to the Aquatic Center.

“It’s always fun to compete in our pool,” Nieszner said, “and to attract top-10 teams that want to compete in our pool too.”