Gophers compete with each other in last meet of semester

Minnesota was one of the only Division I schools in a sea of Division II and III programs at the University Aquatic Center.

Kyler Van Swol swims the Men's 100 Yard Breaststroke on Saturday at the Aquatic Center.

Emily Dunker

Kyler Van Swol swims the Men’s 100 Yard Breaststroke on Saturday at the Aquatic Center.

Megan Ryan

While five other teams competed at the Jean Freeman Invite on Friday and Saturday at the University Aquatic Center, the Gophers swimming and diving teams mostly competed against each other.

Minnesota was, after all, one of the only Division I schools in a sea of Division II and III programs.

“Even though maybe these teams aren’t as fast as we would like or as competitive, we still get to race against our own team,” senior Josh Hall said.

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, St. John’s/St. Benedict, Gustavus and South Dakota State all participated in Minnesota’s first hosting of the meet, which is typically a larger competition.

With the smaller meet and weaker competition, senior Lauren Weis said the Gophers treated the competition almost as an intrasquad meet.

Weis battled against teammate sophomore Kiera Janzen in the 200-yard freestyle and beat her to the wall by hundredths of a second. Her time of 1:49.63 was good for first place.

“It’s always fun to race Kiera,” Weis said. “We always kind of go head to head.”

Hall also matched up with a teammate and came out on top. He placed first in the 100 breaststroke, out-touching senior Jared Anderson by just more than a tenth of a second.

“We’re constantly pushing one another, regardless of the circumstances,” Hall said. “Like especially today, me and Jared were probably the best breaststrokers there, and I think we showed that.”

While most of the Gophers’ competition came from within the team, head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach Kelly Kremer said actually racing at a meet was important.

“You can simulate that in practice — it’s just not the same,” Kremer said.

Kremer said he was pleased with how the swimmers handled the two-day meet after a grueling week of practice.

“I know, to a person, everybody’s really tired,” Kremer said. “So seeing some good racing and some good attention to detail when they’re tired has been positive.”

In addition to training purposes, the Gophers also used this meet to swim some different events.

Junior Kyler Van Swol, who specializes in the butterfly, won the 500 freestyle in 4:33.40 — a time Kremer called “respectable.”

“It was fun to see them attack different races and how they would respond in those situations,” Kremer said.

The Gophers’ divers swept the top-three spots in both 1-meter and 3-meter for men and women. Junior Maggie Keefer and senior Mikey Ross were double champions.

The Gophers’ next meet is Jan. 12 in Hawaii. Until then, the team will have a long stretch of practices.

“Sometimes you can get caught up in the training,” Weis said. “It was good to have [a meet] before we go and train even harder.”