Gophers relocate, slam Hawkeyes in home pool

by Brian Stensaas

The thermometer on the deck of the Aquatic Center reads a balmy 80 degrees during a standard swim meet.
As of late, it’s not the only thing on the rise. The eighth-ranked Minnesota men’s swimming and diving team pushed its dual record to 5-0 Friday night, sinking Iowa 186-83.
The win didn’t come without a little confusion. The meet was originally scheduled to be held in Minnesota, but was moved to Iowa City in December, giving the Gophers their one and only road dual meet of the season. However, a leaky Hawkeye pool forced the meet back to Minneapolis and cancelled the women’s meet altogether.
“The Texas Invite was our only away meet this year, so we were willing to travel to Iowa for the meet,” coach Dennis Dale said. “But when (Iowa) alerted me that their pool had the leak, it was an automatic decision to get the meet swam here.”
Dale said that he first learned of Iowa’s faulty pool in early January and despite Iowa officials saying its pool would be ready to go in time, he immediately reserved the Aquatic Center.
In the end, it didn’t matter where the meet would have been held — the Gophers dominated the contest. In five events, Minnesota took both first and second places and diver Dan Croaston won both the 1- and 3-meter diving competitions.
In all, Minnesota won 16 of the 17 events — a result that will almost always leave a coach smiling.
“I was very pleased with winning 16 of 17 events, but I was more pleased with the manner that we won them,” he said. “We had a number of guys who swam lifetime bests tonight. To see college athletes do that in the middle of the season is almost unheard of.”
Namely, Dale said that he was pleased with the 200-yard breaststroke participants. Dov Malnik won the event with Jeff Hackler, Chris Forrest and Brian Howard all finishing in the top six.
“I think that is the best 200 breaststroke that we have swum in Minnesota history,” Dale said.
Alex Massura was Minnesota’s shining northern star, winning three events. Massura captured the 100 and 200 backstroke events as well as the 200 individual medley.
“We’ve been working really hard to get ready for the Big Ten (championships),” Massura said. “Now we just have to be patient, swim hard next week and then get ready for the big meets. It’s starting to get exciting now, this is our time.”
Double winners for Minnesota included Max von Bodungen (200 and 500 freestyle), Malnik (100 and 200 breaststroke) and Ricardo Dornelas (50 and 100 freestyle).
The focus now for the Gophers is on this weekend, when Wisconsin and Purdue roll into the Aquatic Center for a triple-dual meet. To be completely satisfied next weekend, Dale said he needs to see his team duplicate its efforts from Friday.
“What we need to see here now is for everybody to be at a top level,” he said. “In a dream, I would like to see the same level of excellence I saw (Friday), and for those who need to step up do so.”
That dream could become a reality starting Friday night at 6 p.m.

Brian Stensaas covers men’s and women’s swimming and diving and welcomes comments at [email protected]