Swim teams set for competitive meets

by Brian Stensaas

The swimming and diving teams have had something of a relaxing year so far. So relaxing that during the intrasquad meet held last month, members of the men’s diving team were leap-frogging one another off of the 10-meter diving platform.
This weekend’s matchup is sure to garner a little more focus and a little less leap-frogging.
What a way to open the season.
The 12th-ranked men’s Gophers welcome No. 15 Nebraska and No. 23 North Carolina to the aquatic center this weekend for a two-day meet guaranteed to produce high-flying action of a different kind — excitement.
The women’s should be equally as competitive with North Carolina, Nebraska and Michigan in town for the meet — and all the teams are ranked in the top 20.
Men’s swimming and diving
Despite the long wait for the official start of the season, assistant coach Kelly Kremer says that the team is ready for this weekend’s big meet.
“This is our first big test,” he said. “It’s a good starting point for us. I think that the reason we had the smaller, relaxing meets earlier was so we wouldn’t come in here this weekend with such a long rest.”
While Nebraska and North Carolina have both had their chances in the pool already this season, Kremer said that all advantages will be negated once they enter the Gopher pool.
“Our guys are going to go out there with their normal routine, in their own pool,” he said. “They’re seasoned enough to be able to wait until now to swim against tough competition.”
Minnesota will be looking for a bit of revenge against North Carolina particularly. The Gophers went to Chapel Hill last season for a dual meet and came home with a close loss, something that they would like to hand the Tarheels this time around.
While the whole team is geared up for the meet, it will be the first test for this year’s freshman squad to show what its skills against actual college competition. Kremer says that he’s curious to see the development.
“This meet will tells a lot about them (freshmen),” he said. “It will be interesting to see how they react to such a big meet.”
Of course, helping the Gophers along in a big way this weekend will be 1999 co-Big Ten swimmer of the year Alex Massura and 1999 co-Big Ten diver of the year Dan Croaston. But that was last year and hopes are high for this year’s team.
“This has the potential to be an eye-opening event for us,” Kremer said. “Our guys — across the board — like to win. But in order to do that, they are going to definitely swim their best.”
Women’s swimming and diving
With a pair of mock swimming meets to warm up for the year and a dual-meet win over two mediocre NCAA teams under its rubber swimming cap already this season, Minnesota will test a new degree of water this weekend. The Gophers will be at home Friday and Saturday competing against three nationally-ranked teams.
The question seems obvious: Are they ready for it?
“I guess we’ll find out this weekend,” chuckled coach Jean Freeman. “Last year I didn’t think we were (ready) and we were awesome. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Minnesota will open its doors to Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina ranked eighth, ninth and 20th respectively in the latest national poll. Minnesota, 11th in the same poll, is looking to prove that last year’s Big Ten title and NCAA performance were no fluke.
Proving that point, however, will not be an easy task. All three teams, Nebraska (in the Big 12), Michigan (Big Ten) and North Carolina (ACC) were runners-up in their respective conferences last season.
“It’s nice to have really good teams come in and swim against us,” senior Amy Cottrill said. “It gives us a challenge.”
All three teams also return a strong core of All-America swimmers. Yet Freeman has kept, for the most part, the same game plan with her swimmers and their training.
“We haven’t altered a lot with the training,” she said. “We’ve done some little things here and there, but nothing major.”
One of those little things was moving the scheduled workouts up a day to be more ready for the long weekend. Freeman said that the two-day structure of the meet is good for her team because of the preparation it gives for the Big Ten championships and NCAA meet, both of which are three days long.
This weekend’s event will go down in the books as three dual meets for Minnesota. Each team will be allowed four swimmers per event run with diving going on continuously throughout the meet.
“It’s easy for anyone to get confused in this sort of a meet,” Freeman said. “It’s nice, though, to have a meet with three separate conferences swimming. It gives you that extra pride.”
One thing that Freeman said the Gophers will have over the other schools is team depth. She said while Minnesota may not come in first in all of the events, look for the Gophers to constantly be in the second, third and fourth spots.
Senior Terri Jashinsky echoed Freeman’s thought.
“I think our biggest strength this year is depth,” she said. “I think that we’ll be able to form a solid base (of swimmers) and then build off of that.”
Friday’s events will begin at 6 p.m. with Saturday’s action commencing at noon.

Brian Stensaas covers swimming and diving and welcomes questions at [email protected]