Results seen in spades in the pool

Matt Perkins

Minnesota’s men’s swimming and diving team obliterated its competition this weekend as it hosted the Minnesota Challenge at the University Aquatic Center.

The Gophers won all 15 of their events, and even took the top 14 times in the 200-yard freestyle, led by Igor Cerensek, who won the event with a time of 1:37.87.

It wasn’t too important that they won, Minnesota coach Dennis Dale said, but it was very important for them to study how they won.

After each event and a short cooldown, the Gopher swimmers would hop out of the pool and plop themselves in front of a TV alongside Dale.

But they weren’t watching the 312th hour of Super Bowl pregame coverage; they were watching themselves.

“It’s something we do in practice but not so much in meets,” Dale said. “We TiVo our races so we can see what we’re doing well and what we need to work on. And that’s the most important thing in an event like this.”

Dale said the Minnesota Challenge isn’t about proving their dominance over the likes of Gustavus Adolphus College or Saint Cloud State; it’s about getting ready for the Big Ten Championships.

And for the Gopher divers, who didn’t compete in the challenge, it was about taking the weekend to prepare mentally.

“You know we struggled a bit, but we can learn from any mistakes we make,” diving coach Jason Baumann said after last weekend’s triple duals against Wisconsin and Purdue. “At this point, it’s about 99 percent mental, so it’s just getting over that obstacle and staying strong.”

And this weekend, TiVo was helping the Gophers’ swimmers prepare.

Dale said that it’s easy to be simply satisfied with the fact that Cerensek took first ahead of 13 other Gophers in the 200 free, but watching the tape was much more impressive.

Cerensek has had a history of being a little soft in the middle of his races, Dale said, but over the weekend he was attacking the middle.

And that’s nice to see against South Dakota State.

“Sometimes when you’re not swimming against stiff competition you tend to ease up a bit,” Dale said. “We’re more racing ourselves, our own team members and the clock in preparation for Big Tens.”

Women excited for Big Tens

Minnesota’s women’s swimming and diving co-coach Kelly Kremer said he was impressed with his team’s results at the Minnesota Challenge this weekend.

He said the group that is going to be competing at the Big Ten Championships was clocking great times, and the non-Big Ten squad was posting lifetime bests.

“At the early stages of rest you really don’t know what you’re going to see,” Kremer said. “But I was really pleased with how fast our kids were swimming.”

Most impressive was the fact that the Gophers put together six relay teams for the 200-yard medley relay, and they came out with the top-six spots.

And now Minnesota, who finished sixth at last year’s Big Ten Championships, can focus all of their attention on this year’s event held in Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 15.

And though they will surely be underdogs, they are anything but nervous, Kremer said.

“I think we are all excited more than anything,” Kremer said. “We’re just going to go, have fun and swim well. But we’re definitely looking forward to it.”