Swimming and diving rolls to weekend wins

Brian Stensaas

Men’s swimming coach Dennis Dale, along with just about everybody else at the Dorothy L. Sheppard pool this weekend, knew that junior Alex Massura was going to turn in fast times against No. 17 Nebraska and No. 20 North Carolina.
But what they didn’t know was that not only would Massura turn in the fastest time to date in the nation in the 100-yard backstroke (47.97), but sophomore Ricardo Dornelas would do the same in the 50 freestyle (20.03).
Both are NCAA consideration times. The automatic time for the 100 backstroke is 47.93, four one-hundredths faster than Massura’s mark.
The times helped the 10th-ranked Gophers defeat the Cornhuskers 247-123 and the Tarheels 234-135 in a two-day meet.
“I was more shocked with Ricardo’s time in the free,” Dale said. “I knew that Alex could go 47.9, and he did. Ricardo’s 20.03 was a shock, but one of those shocks that you like to take.”
While Dale may have been optimistic about Massura’s chances of going under 48 seconds in the first meet, the man himself wasn’t so sure.
“I knew I could do it, but I had no clue I would do it so early in the season,” Massura said. “Now I want to improve it. It’s definitely possible to reach.”
Dale said that during the months of practice so far this season, he has talked to Massura about his times and the ability to finish under 48 seconds in the 100 backstroke. With Dornelas, Dale said that the talk was more about fundamentals.
“Ricardo sometimes has trouble with starts,” Dale said. “He had an outstanding start there and also had one of the best turns he’s ever done. Combine that with good swimming and he gets 20.03.”
Dornelas echoed Dale’s remarks.
“In the 50 free, it’s basically the starts,” he said. “I saw that Alex and the rest of the team was having a good meet and then I was like, ‘OK, now it’s my turn.’ My goal was 20.3 or 20.4. I saw it was 20.0 and I couldn’t believe it.”
Massura also won the 200 backstroke and Dornelas notched first in the 100 freestyle.
While two of Minnesota’s biggest guns smoked this weekend, the whole team contributed to the win, proving Minnesota’s depth.
Along with Massura, Ben Bartell and Todd Smolinski, first- and second-year swimmers with the team, respectively, swept the top-three places in the 200 backstroke.
And Minnesota’s “A” relay team took all five relays on the weekend.
Statistics like that make for a happy coach.
“I would say that this was an awesome meet. We had good swimming up and down the line,” Dale said. “I’ve never had two guys swim under 1:48 in the butterfly, that’s a fast time. And to win all five relays, I wasn’t sure that we could do that.”
In addition to the relays, sophomore Max von Bodungen was a double-winner taking the 200 and 500 freestyle. Junior diver Dan Croaston won both the one- and three-meter diving competitions, both by well over 30 points.
“This was a good meet for us, but we know we have to get better,” Dale said. “This is good swimming for November fifth and sixth. Come January and February, we have to be swimming better than this before we head into Big Tens.”

Brian Stensaas cover swimming and diving and welcomes comments at [email protected]