The men’s swimming and diving team likes to think its strength is its unity.
The team often gathers before each meet for a workout. They come together as one during the relay events. And sometimes, they sing.
Prior to Sunday’s final session of the Minnesota Invitational, the team got together to work out in the pool, all in one lane. Shortly after they assembled, a female member of Wisconsin’s swim team invaded Minnesota’s lane. That’s when the men circled around the woman and, ala “Top Gun,” serenaded her to the tune of “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling.”
On that note, the Gophers mauled the rest of the field this weekend, racking up 970 points en route to a win in the Minnesota Invitational. Pittsburgh was the closest to Minnesota at 677.5.
Ranked teams in the meet included No. 10 Minnesota, No. 11 Tennessee and No. 24 Iowa State.
“The guys had fun with that,” coach Dennis Dale said of the pre-meet song. “They enjoy that sort of thing, but know they have a job to do.”
But Minnesota was without two of its top guns, Alex Massura and Ricardo Dornelas. Both are a part of Brazil’s national team and are competing in a Grand Prix Cup meet.
“We handled everything just fine,” Dale said. “We weren’t as solid as we would have liked to have been in some areas, but I was pleased overall.
“The guys are having fun out there and doing well at the same time, and I like that.”
One area that Dale must have been proud in was the 200 butterfly. Junior Keam Ang took home first-place in the event with senior Yoav Mieri right behind in second.
“In the past, we’ve been so individualized,” Mieri said. “It was fun to swim 1-2 in an event and know that you and another were helping out the team.”
In total, the Gophers won three events on the weekend. Ang won the butterfly, and Max von Bodungen’s took first place in the 400 freestyle. Minnesota also won the 400 medley relay.
Mieri also touched on the team togetherness.
“As far as being a total team, this is the best I have seen it in that regard,” he said. “We are working so hard to be a team and win the Big Ten and place high in the NCAA.”
Not to be overlooked in the team aspect is Minnesota’s diving. Junior Dan Croaston won the 1-meter event and placed second in the tower. He turned in one of his best dives in both respective heights, making him optimistic for the future.
“I know what I have to do to keep improving,” he said. “I’ve been lifting (weights) and exercising on my own a lot to keep up on things.”
While all this is true, Croaston knows not to overdo it.
“The last thing I want to do is burn myself out,” he said. “I want to be able to go out there and score points.”
Brian Stensaas covers swimming and diving and welcomes comments at [email protected]