Men’s swim team re-stocks

David La

Men’s swimming and diving coach Dennis Dale is not an avid fisherman, but he knows a keeper when he sees one.
Mounted in Dale’s office is a “slightly over 10-pound walleye” that he caught on one of his annual fishing trips to Canada.
Interestingly, the fish is a replica. It seems Dale practices catch-and-release, a method that he also used with his team prior to this season.
In addition to losing eight seniors to graduation, Dale said two other swimmers — Ryan Crosby and Adam Frankow — were, “assisted in their retirement.”
The Gophers — who finished second at the Big Ten championships last year — will be without the swimmers who scored half of the teams’ 588 Big Ten points.
That means it’s time to re-stock the pool of talent.
Minnesota’s program has had considerable success recruiting international athletes and this year is no exception. Florida State transfer Keam Ang and freshman Allen Ong both swam for the Malaysian Olympic team.
Dale also tapped into national talent, bringing in a crop of solid performers from the junior and senior national levels. Headliners include breaststroker Jeff Hackler and backstroker Todd Smolinski.
“On paper,” Dale said, “what we’re bringing in doesn’t have the point production of what we lost. But, a lot of these guys are young and have time to prove they can do the job.”
It will likely take time for the newcomers to get going, but Dale isn’t calling it a rebuilding year just yet. Minnesota retains three Big Ten champions, two of which have had considerable success away from the collegiate scene this summer.
Junior Alex Massura, representing Brazil, won the silver medal in the 100-meter backstroke at the Pan-Am Games in August.
Fellow Brazilian, Ricardo Dornelas, took the bronze in the 50-meter freestyle at the World University Games in July.
All told, Dale is looking for the kind of season that the pollsters think his team is capable of. The Gophers come in ranked 11th, a number that has Dale somewhat amused.
“I don’t think some of the pollsters did their homework,” Dale said. “The others didn’t lose what we did through graduation.”
The Gophers lost obvious points and untold intangibles to graduation, and Dale will need all available hands on deck this season to ensure his team stays on course.

David La Vaque covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]