Swimming teams dominate at tune-up for conference meet

Jim Schortemeyer

It was a quirky weekend for the Gophers men’s swimming team at the Minnesota Challenge.
The evidence:
ù The person who played the national anthem jumped into the pool with all his clothes on.
ù Yoav Meiri swam the 500-yard freestyle with the butterfly stroke. Swimmers almost always use the crawl for the event..
ù Minnesota had 60 out of 70 swimmers in the final (and fastest) heats.
Although St. Thomas, Gustavus, and a few select high schoolers were there to provide competition, they obviously didn’t provide much. The meet was not scored, since Minnesota was using it to prepare for the Big Ten Championships in three weeks.
Head coach Dennis Dale reiterated that the meet was serving purposes beyond the scope of a regular competition.
“From now to the Big Tens, we’re going to try to clean up things like starts, turns and relay starts,” Dale said.
The Gophers used the meet as a sort of formal practice.
Meiri’s swim exemplified what the meet was about for Minnesota. Meiri, a butterfly and backstroke specialist, used the event to work on his stamina and swim a faster 500 than he would in practice.
Unattached swimmer Chris Wood won the 100 and 200 breaststroke, the only non-Minnesota swimmer to win an event.
The Gophers saw continued improvement from Martin Zielinski, who won both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke. Zielinski is known for gradually improving over the course of the season.
“It’s not something I’m conscious of, at least,” Zielinski said. “I don’t try to do it.”
The 13th-ranked Gophers will be at home Feb. 26-28, for the Big Ten Championships.
Women dominate as well
The women’s swimming team was also in action at the Minnesota Challenge this weekend.
Their competition consisted of two all-star teams of local swimmers, St. Thomas and Gustavus. The meet was not scored, but the Gophers were dominant, despite not competing with their fastest swimmers. Minnesota still managed to win 10 of 13 individual events.
With the Big Ten Championships two weeks off, this meet was about preparing the swimmers for the mental part of the Championships. The meet was designed to mirror the order of events at Big Tens.
“There’s a lot to be done yet, mainly mentally,” Gophers coach Jean Freeman.
The duo of Emily Deppe and Ann Cahoy finished a close 1-2 in the 100-yard backstroke. That’s nothing new for the pair, who have been neck and neck in the backstrokes all year. The backstroke is expected to be a strong event for the Gophers at the Championships.
Other winners over the weekend included: Katy Christofferson, Gretchen Hegener, Amy Mickschl, Terri Jashinski and Andrea Simakova.
The team has been looking forward to the Big Ten Championships for weeks now, and has two more weeks to taper before the meet starts.
“Everybody on the team’s really excited for Big Tens,” said senior captain Kim Wilson.