Minnesota takes 11th as Arizona runs away with title

Relays gave the Gophers a solid bump as they finished 137.5 points above last year’s total.

by Nick Gerhardt

The relays served as the strength of the Minnesota swim team all season long, so it was no surprise when those relays came up huge in the NCAA championships in Federal Way, Wash., over the weekend.

The Gophers finished with 137.5 points, more than their total last year, but far from Arizona, who blew away the field with 500.5 points for the title.

All five of Minnesota’s relays earned All-American honors as they all finished ninth or better to give the Gophers an 11th place overall finish.

The senior-led 400-yard medley relay broke the school record twice over the weekend.

The 400-medley relay team of seniors David Plummer, Tyler Schmidt, Mike Woodson and junior Jon Roberts set a new school record in the preliminaries, and then broke the record once again in the finals to finish seventh.

For Plummer, the success of the 400-medley relay only added to an impressive showing.

Plummer also broke his school record twice in the 100 backstroke, and picked up four All-American awards to finish with 14 for his career. Plummer owns 8 individual awards, which ranks second all-time in school history.

Schmidt swam on all of the relay squads and also picked up four All-American awards to finish with 10 for his career.

“Our relays did a great job,” head coach Dennis Dale said. “For our seniors it’s great, but for the guys there for the first time it’s impressive.”

Four Minnesota swimmers made their first trip to the NCAAs and all earned All-American honors.

After transferring from Rutgers, junior Steve Miller concluded an impressive first year with the Gophers.

“He was concerned about making the traveling squad when he first came here,” Dale said. “He had a dynamite year.”

Miller helped the 400-free relay finish eighth and continue a seven-year streak of the relay, earning All-American honors.

Training with other All-Americans like Schmidt on a daily basis helped Miller improve throughout the season to the point where he earned his own All-American award.

“Training together every day with those guys, not wanting to lose to them motivated me to do better,” Miller said.

Minnesota will lose five seniors from its NCAA roster, but the experience gained by Miller and others will ease the burden.

“It’s good that we had some pretty good performances,” Miller said. “It makes you feel a lot better when Michael Richards can swim the 50-freestyle and Curt Carlson can swim the 50, as well.”

Richards, a freshman, earned All-American honors in the 200 free relay and the 200 medley, and expects the team to replace the 24 All-American awards of Schmidt and Plummer over time.

“We graduate a lot of seniors, but we have a lot of potential with the younger guys,” Richards said. “We’ll be poised to do better next year.”