Men’s swimmers slip to 15th place at NCAAs

by David La

At the Big Ten championships in February, the Gophers men’s swimming team learned its lesson by way of a disqualification after taking off too early on a relay.
But the Gophers tried a little too hard to ensure no relay relapses at the NCAA championships in Indianapolis over the weekend. Their timid take-offs hurt their performances, as Minnesota finished in 15th place with 112 points.
Auburn won the championship with 467.5 points, followed by Stanford (414.5) and Texas (356.5).
“I think having our relay disqualified at Big Tens was an overriding concern,” coach Dennis Dale said of the inhibited relay performances. “When I said something (to the swimmers) about the relay exchanges, the common response was, ‘I didn’t want to get the relay disqualified.'”
While they may have been safe, overall the relay performances were not sorry. No. 10 Minnesota scored in all five of its relay events, highlighted by a seventh-place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay.
Earning All-American honors as part of the relay were seniors John Cahoy and Jono McLeod, sophomore Alex Massura and freshman Max Von Bodungen.
“We thought the 800 free relay might be our weakest, so for them to finish up seventh, we were really pleased,” assistant coach Kelly Kremer said.
Massura, who swam the first leg of the 800 free relay, also took All-American honors with his fourth-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke — the top individual finish for the Gophers at the NCAAs.
Honorable-mention All-American awards were taken by Cahoy (100 butterfly), freshman Dov Malnik (200 breaststroke) and junior Yoav Meiri (200 butterfly) in their individual events. Sophomore diver Dan Croaston garnered honorable mention honors with an 11th-place finish on the one-meter diving board.
“In most cases, we got all the scoring from people that we possibly could have,” Dale said. “Yoav did everything we could’ve hoped for. He exceeded our expectations.”
Meiri, who finished ninth in the 200 fly, was further credited by Dale for his steady demeanor at such a high-stakes meet. True to form, Meiri’s response was also steady if not nonchalant.
“Some people react better at big meets and I have to assume that I’m one of them,” Meiri said. “The excitement helps me to perform better.”
When the team departed from Bloomington, Ind., in February, it did so with the disappointment of a squandered chance at a repeat Big Ten championship.
But leaving Indianapolis one month later, Dale was satisfied with his group, although the Gophers fell short of their goal of finishing in the top 10.
“I don’t know when the last time at NCAAs every one of our athletes has earned All-American recognition,” Dale said. “To me, that was one of the nice pluses of the meet.”