Men’s swimmers take triangular meet

by Jim Schortemeyer

The men’s swimming and diving team got exactly what it expected over the weekend in Madison in its first Big Ten action in more than two months. The Gophers mauled Wisconsin, 219-116, and won a tough matchup with Purdue, 194-154.
The usual suspects garnered their normal bunches of points for the Gophers. Freshmen Alex Massura and Dan Croaston were double winners. Bill Bishop and Martin Zielinski each had a first- and a second-place finish, and senior Ty Bathurst won two events.
Perhaps the most heartening result for coach Dennis Dale was the performance of his backstroke swimmers. Massura, Ryan Crosby, and Eriek Hulseman finished 1-2-3 respectively in the 100-yard backstroke, and 1-3-5 respectively in the 200 backstroke.
“A year ago, that was the one event we didn’t score in at Big Tens, and this year it’s our strongest event,” Dale said.
Purdue, ranked 21st in the country, provided Minnesota its most difficult challenge of the weekend. The Boilermakers have some of the best sprinters in the Big Ten. Minnesota managed a 1-2-4-5 finish in the 50-freestyle, but Purdue brought the pool to a boil in the 100-yard free, taking first and second place.
“I pointed out to the team that they handled Nebraska very easily,” said Dale. “It’s going to be a real battle in those (sprinting) events.”
In diving competition, Croaston, a freshman from Champlin Park, has finished in first place all but once this season. That loss came last weekend at Nebraska. Croaston recovered nicely with victories on the 1- and 3-meter diving boards, scoring an NCAA consideration total of 450.20 on the 3 meter.
The times for the Gophers in the 100 butterfly keep getting better, mainly because of junior Martin Zielinski. Zielinski, a late-season swimmer, swam a pool record time of 48.46 in the event.
Senior Ty Bathurst was up to his usual ways as well. Bathurst won the 50 freestyle comfortably, while teammate Brandon Schindler picked up the second-place finish.
The men are currently ranked 13th in the nation, and are looking to move up in the polls. Michigan, ranked No. 7, is the only Big Ten team ranked ahead of Minnesota.
The Gophers will be back at home for the first time in nearly a month next weekend, when they host the Minnesota Challenge. They will be at home as well for the Big Ten Championships, Feb. 26-28.