Men swim

David La

It was a meet of firsts over the weekend, although the Gophers men’s swimming and diving team placed third at the Dallas Morning News Invite, behind Florida State and Tennessee.
Minnesota’s third-place finish was its highest to date in its third appearance at the invitational tournament. Senior Jono McLeod won the 200 individual medley, becoming the first Gophers swimmer to win an individual event at the tournament.
Minnesota competed against five teams who finished no lower than No. 14 in last year’s NCAAs.
With a squad of only eight swimmers and one diver, participating teams are forced to swim athletes in their secondary events — a fact not lost on coach Dennis Dale, who acknowledged the Gophers’ underdog status.
“We went in with a goal of trying not to finish last,” Dale said.
Minnesota missed second place at the invitational by five points, scoring 293 to Tennessee’s 298. Though they narrowly missed out on second place, the Gophers finished ahead of conference rival Michigan by 42 points.
“I was happy with the difference by which we beat Michigan,” Dale said.
But the No. 9 ranked Wolverines are by no means being taken lightly.
“I think that the invite is more of a sprint-oriented event,” McLeod said. “(Michigan’s) strength is their depth in distance events. You can’t count them out, ever.”
The Dallas Morning News Invite is geared toward preparing swimmers for the NCAA meets, and the Gophers’ appearance at the tournament caused the cancellation of their meet against Iowa.
But neither the coach nor the athletes would do it any differently if given the chance.
“(The swimmers) thought it was great competition,” Dale said. “They were very happy for the opportunity to swim against great athletes we don’t get to see very often.”
Other notable performances at the invitational tournament were that of sophomore Dan Croatson, who finished second in the three-meter diving competition, junior Yoav Meiri’s second-place finish in the 200 butterfly, and the 400 freestyle relay team, which finished second.
Next up for the men is the Triple Duals at Purdue on Jan. 29-30 against Purdue and Wisconsin.