Despite a tough loss to No. 8 Florida a week ago, men looking strong heading into season

John Roberts was Big Ten Swimmer of the Week for his showing against the Gators.

Nick Gerhardt

With the season having just started, Minnesota looks to have nearly everything in order despite a loss to a top ranked Florida team last weekend.

The men’s team lost 158-142 to the No. 8 Gators in a match that went down to the wire.

“We had to win the freestyle relay to win the match. We performed very well,” coach Dennis Dale said.

After graduating a number of important contributors from last season the team will look for the underclassmen and transfers to fill that void.

Junior Jon Roberts, a transfer from Auburn, and freshman Curt Carlson answered the call with strong performances in their first meet as Gophers.

Roberts made a distinct impression quickly with a win in the 100-yard breaststroke and helped guide No. 10 Minnesota to a victory in the 200-yard medley relay. As a result of his efforts Roberts earned the Big Ten Swimmer of the Week honors.

Carlson took home the 100-yard freestyle event and showed he can contribute to the defending Big Ten championship team.

“I’m hoping they come along gradually. Hopefully the freshmen get their chance to shine. Curt was the first of the freshmen to step to the plate,” Dale said.

The team still has some nagging concerns they will address against the Hawkeyes.

“The butterfly is what we struggle with. We don’t have a lot of strength there yet, but guys are stepping into that role,” senior captain Tyler Schmidt said.

Last season Minnesota defeated Iowa 175-125 and Dale believes this meet will give the freshmen a chance to make more of an impact and perhaps fill some important roles for the team.

“We’re moving some people around and this weekend will give us an opportunity to see where we’re at,” Dale said.

Women battle Hawkeyes

The women’s team suffered a 168-132 loss to No. 6 Florida last weekend, but the meet yielded many positives for the No. 21 Gophers.

Freshman Jillian Tyler earned Big Ten Swimmer of the Week honors for her efforts in the loss.

Tyler registered wins in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events and helped Minnesota to victory in the 200 medley relay.

Molly Belk, another freshman, won the 200-yard butterfly event against the Gators and junior Jenny Shaughnessy delivered a first-place finish in the 400 individual medley.

Depth will help the team this year as coach Terry Nieszner guides a strong cast of swimmers.

“We’re pretty deep at every stroke and distance.” Nieszner said. “We’ve got people competing for four spots and that competition will make us better.”

The immediate impact of freshmen like Tyler has the team in good spirits and that mindset has the team meshing together well.

“Sometimes chemistry takes time, but our team chemistry couldn’t be better,” Nieszner said.

Nieszner said that Iowa will have the home pool advantage this weekend and her team needs to adjust to those conditions to ensure more success, but the way things look now, Minnesota will perform well in any waters.

“The freshmen are performing and that is contagious,” Nieszner said.