Turner steps up in first year

Daryl Turner is already one of the fastest freestylers on the Gophers.

David Nelson

Gophers head coach Kelly Kremer described freshman swimmer Daryl Turner as a quiet and humble person.

“You’d never know he’s the swimmer he is [by] just running into him on the street,” Kremer said.

But Turner makes plenty of noise once he dives into the pool, and his teammates noticed instantly.

“As the fastest sprint freestyler on the team, I was afraid I wasn’t going to have too many people to race,” senior captain Derek Toomey said. “And Daryl instantly stepped up.

“I have yet to beat him at a 100 freestyle at a meet.”

Toomey’s name appears three times in the records display hanging in the University Aquatic Center. He owns both the short and long course records in the 100 freestyle.

The fact that Turner holds his own in the pool shows the freshman’s got major talent.

Turner came into Minnesota as the 19th-best recruit in the nation, according to CollegeSwimming.com.

Turner said he felt some added pressure before his first collegiate meet against Arizona State.

“I just went into the meet knowing that this is where my college career starts,” Turner said. “I needed to start well and keep the ball rolling.”

While he admitted to feeling the pressure, to say he started “well” might be an understatement.

Turner won all four events he competed in, including both the 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke. He was also a part of two of the winning relay teams.

And the ball hasn’t seemed to stop rolling since.

Turner’s times in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke all rank in the top 20 in the Big Ten.

He’s also won five Big Ten weekly awards this season.

“It seems like he’s kind of the perennial Big Ten Freshman Swimmer of the Week,” Kremer said. “He’s made the adjustment … as well as anyone could be expected to make it.”

Turner’s early success shouldn’t come as a shock. He was an All-America swimmer four years in a row in high school, but just five years before all these accolades, Turner was swimming in a local recreation league.

“Swimming was the sport that clicked for me,” Turner said. “When I was around 13 or 14, that’s definitely when I found out I really love this sport and could see myself going far with it.”

Now, it appears the sky is the limit for the 18-year-old. And with three and a half more years left in Minnesota, Turner’s presence makes Toomey feel like the program is in good hands.

“I’m passing that torch on down,” Toomey said.

Toomey said he might need to lower the team records even more with Turner not so far behind.

“If he can [break the records],” Toomey said, “[it’s] better him than anyone else.”

While breaking records may or may not be a goal, for right now, Turner said he just wants to continue to improve his own times.

And with the championship season on the horizon, having Turner in the water bodes well for the Gophers.

“Steve Miller, our men’s recruiting coordinator … really did the job in introducing Daryl to Minnesota,” Kremer said. “I think all of us owe Steve a lot.”