Swim teams tune up for Big Tens

Brian Stensaas

Preparations were on the minds of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams this weekend at the Aquatic Center.
Both teams participated in their final regular season match, the Minnesota Invitational. The meet pitted the Gophers with area Division II and III schools St. Thomas and Gustavus. Minnesota dominated the invite, winning a combined 35 of the 40 swimming events.
As the meet ended, women’s coach Jean Freeman was all smiles.
“We accomplished so many things,” she said. “Both of our groups did very good things on their own. I like it when they figure things out for themselves.”
The event was mainly used for both teams to swim events outside of the norm. The Minnesota swimmers competed in three events — the exact same three they will swim at the Big Ten meet.
Bouncing back from a mid-season slump for the men was Yoav Meiri. The senior won two events, capturing the 100-yard backstroke and the 100 butterfly.
For the Gophers women, Katy Christoferson had a busy meet as well, winning the 100 individual medley and the 1650 freestyle.
“It was nice to see the team enjoy the competition and not get too freaked out about it,” Freeman said of swimming in different events.
For a group of 10 Minnesota women swimmers, it was the final meet of the season. Freeman said the group, dubbed the Minnesota Challenge group, didn’t quite live up to expectations.
Along with allowing swimmers to swim in unfamiliar events, the Minnesota Challenge offers another plus. The event order is a mirror image to that of the Big Ten championships.
“It prepares us in the sense that our swimmers are exposed to the format of the big meet,” men’s coach Dennis Dale said. “There’s only three individual events on the first day of the Big Ten meet. If they want to swim on the first day, they have to get good at one of those events.”
Just over a week remains for the women before they head off to Indianapolis for the Big Ten meet. In that week, Freeman said her team will alternate between swimming drills and technical work.
Dale and his team have an extra week before they ship off to Ann Arbor, Mich. As of now, his final travel squad still remains up in the air.
“There’s still that final travel team to be determined,” he said. “It’s a tough decision. There’s two or three guys that will go and two or three guys that will be cut.”

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