Men’s swimmers to face stiff Big Ten competition

Brian Stensaas

Three swimming and diving teams ranked in the nation’s top 25 will compete at the Aquatic Center this weekend.
Three teams at three levels of competition and with one goal somewhere in their minds: To gain ground before the Big Ten championships in February.
As 10th-ranked Minnesota prepares to host No. 23 Wisconsin and No. 24 Purdue tonight and tomorrow afternoon, the team knows it needs a repeat performance from last weekend’s dominating win over Iowa. But looking at the numbers is one thing. Actually seeing the output is a whole different ball of wax.
“Both of these teams have some very talented athletes,” coach Dennis Dale said of the two conference foes. “I think that we are a deeper team, but both Purdue and Wisconsin can challenge us in some events.”
The Gophers came within one event of a clean sweep against the Hawkeyes, but Dale says not everybody was doing their best.
“There were a couple of guys who were mentally out to lunch against Iowa,” he said, despite the win. “I think that in order for us to be right where we need to be, those who failed to show up last weekend need to compete at the level that the others did.”
The marquee matchup this weekend will pit Minnesota All-American Alex Massura and Wisconsin’s Ted Krueger in the backstroke. Krueger defeated Massura at the Texas Invite in early December and the two should fight for first again.
“It’s tough to be razor sharp the whole season,” Dale said. “What we are asking the guys to do is be ready to go. We need to see that.”
Dov Malnik, who won both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events last weekend said that now is the time to make a bold statement to the Big Ten.
“This is our last dual before the Big Ten meet, so the whole team is trying to send a message to the rest of the conference,” he said. “We’re going to go out there and show that we are ready to win. But it won’t be easy.”
While they are focused on winning, others are just getting their feet wet for the first time. Freshman Ryan L’Roy — who won twice last weekend — says the shift to Division I swimming has been a difficult one, but he looks forward to the tougher swimming of Big Ten competition.
“College swimming is a lot more demanding,” L’Roy said. “It’s time to race.”

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