Home meet to end season for about 20 swimmers

The rest of the team will continue its season later this month at the Big Ten championships.

Nate Gotlieb

For most of the Gophers men’s and women’s swimming and diving team, the season will continue later this month at the Big Ten championships.

But for about 20 swimmers and divers, this weekend’s Minnesota Challenge is their last meet of the season.

These swimmers and divers have prepared for the Minnesota Challenge like it’s a championship meet.

“It is a chance to go out and show the team and the rest of Minnesota what you’ve done this season,” sophomore swimmer Grant Alef said.

Alef and the other swimmers have been preparing for the meet by “tapering” their training regimen and decreasing the length of their practices.

The swimmers also shave their legs and wear special compression swimsuits at the meet, giving it a championship feel.

“Part of the taper process is to get a really good feel in the water,” freshman swimmer Nik Brinck said. “And those suits allow for a really good feel.”

Head men’s and women’s coach Kelly Kremer said the tapering process gives the swimmers an edge.

“Mentally, they just feel better,” Kremer said, “and physically, it is a little bit quicker.”

Though next year’s Big Ten championships are a year away, the process of determining the 2014 Big Ten squad starts this weekend, according to Kremer.

“It’s hard to be on the bubble. It’s hard to not quite know,” he said. “I think this [meet] just provides an opportunity for them to do a performance that would maybe next year put them in a different position.”

The Gophers’ Big Ten team will continue preparing for the Big Ten championships, which start Feb. 20 for the women and Feb. 27 for the men.

Minnesota is looking to build off last weekend’s performance, during which both the men’s and women’s teams won all of their meets at the Big Ten triple and quad duals.

Alef, Brinck and the other tapering swimmers won’t compete after this weekend, but Kremer’s expectations for them remain the same.

“Even though they might not be in the pool, even though they may not be preparing for Big Tens or NCAAs, they need to be exercising the same commitment,” Kremer said.