Men’s team dropping time as end of the season nears

The Gophers have won seven meets in a row after losing their first three.

by Thomas Jaakola

The Minnesota men’s swimming and diving team seems to be heating up at the right time heading into the final meets of the season.
The Gophers won seven meets in a row after defeating Northwestern and Purdue at the Big Ten Triple Dual over the weekend, erasing memories of the three consecutive losses that started the year.
“You’re really starting to see some people come through,” head coach Kelly Kremer said after the meet. “As we get ready here for the conference championships and the NCAAs, we’re going to need really big swims from a lot of people and big dives from a lot of people.”
The victories haven’t been hollow either, as the team is dropping time throughout the lineup.
The team’s 200 medley relay team, which consists of junior Daryl Turner, sophomore Conner McHugh, junior Paul Fair and freshman Hunter Doerr, won the event in a time of 1:29.89 in mid-January in Denver.
The team swapped in freshman Bowe Becker for Doerr and dropped nearly a second and a half last weekend, finishing in 1:28.40.
McHugh also dropped 0.28 seconds from his 100 breaststroke time in Evanston, Ill., winning the event in 55.61 seconds.
“I think the team has truly been competing better with each additional meet we’ve had this season,” McHugh said. “Heading into Big Tens, a large number of our men are in great spots to score in A and B Finals, and our relays look really strong.”
The Gophers 200 freestyle relay also improved their time over the weekend, losing more than a second and a half with Turner coming into the fold.
Turner also swam a season-best time in the 100 backstroke at the Triple Dual, and Fair’s time in the 100 free was about a half-second off his career-best time in the event. 
“I have been trying to get as much rest and recovery as possible,” Fair said. “That mostly consists of sleeping more and loosening tight muscles. Recent meets have been going better than earlier meets in the year. I’m in much better shape, and my racing style has improved as well.”
On the diving block, senior Manny Pollard posted a career-high score of 388.55 in the 1-meter event over the weekend.
The Gophers will continue to up their efforts to shed time, with only one meet, the Minnesota Challenge, standing between the team and the Big Ten Championships from Feb. 24 through 27.
With the conference meet looming, Minnesota is hoping to channel its winning streak into a better result than last year’s sixth-place finish.
“I think the men are in a really good spot right now,” junior Jakub Maly said. “The last two meets in Denver and Evanston already showed that we got plenty of speed and depth in multiple races, even during the toughest part of the season, which makes the upcoming end [of the season] even more exciting.”