Both squads headed to Wisconsin for Big Ten competition

The women’s team gained valuable team chemistry over winter break.

by Krista Theis

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams travel to Wisconsin this weekend to compete in their first meet since returning home from winter training camp in Hawaii.

This weekend’s meet also marks the last dual competition for the Gophers before heading into their championship season.

The seventh-ranked men’s team will compete in a triple dual meet against Wisconsin and 19th-ranked Purdue.

Both teams have a number of good individuals, so there should be a lot of great races, coach Dennis Dale said. Despite the talent of the other teams, Dale said he thinks Minnesota’s depth will be the advantage that allows them to win both duals. He also said he hopes to win all four of the meet’s relay events.

This weekend the Gophers plan on utilizing skills they worked on during their winter training camp.

“We really hammered our aerobic conditioning,” Dale said. “So hopefully we’ll do well on all the longer races that require higher levels of aerobic conditioning.”

Minnesota also worked a lot on improving its turns, which Dale hopes will help the sprinters have great walls, enabling them to hang onto their races a little better.

Dale said the biggest event of the weekend is going to be the 400-yard Individual Medley because it will be very important at the Big Ten Championships.

“We need to start proving that we have guys that can be Big Ten finalists in that event,” Dale said.

Both Wisconsin and Purdue have outstanding Individual Medley swimmers so it will be a very good race, he said.

This weekend is the Gophers’ last big dual meet before the Big Ten Championships and Dale said he expects the men to have some great races.

“We don’t have a lot of opportunities to prove ourselves, so we’ve got to take advantage of every chance we get,” he said.

Team chemistry is key

The 21st-ranked women’s team will also be competing in Madison this weekend, but in a quad dual meet against Illinois, Purdue and No. 18 Wisconsin.

Coach Kelly Kremer expressed how hard his team worked during training camp and said he looks forward to putting up a nice fight this weekend.

Although the coaches said they hope to have success in the pool, Kremer said his team’s biggest asset right now doesn’t have much to do with the water, but rather with team chemistry.

“The team is coming together and building common goals and getting excited about the big meets that are coming up,” Kremer said. “The seniors are also really leading by example with the things they say and actions they make.”

Kremer said he feels there is no question the women are in great shape in the water and the team is ready to race.

Coach Terry Nieszner said she expects some swimmers will do really well, but thinks this past week’s hectic schedule might affect others.

The Gophers returned home from Hawaii on Monday, started classes Tuesday and will be leaving again Friday, which can be hard, Nieszner said.

“They are tired. They are very, very tired,” Nieszner explained. “Rather than focus on the times, I think for us it’s just about attitude, team chemistry, focusing on the details and giving it 110 percent.”