Five Minnesota swimmers, Kremer head to USA College Challenge

The meet will pit Big Ten swimmers athletes against swimmers from the U.S. national team.

Gophers sophomore Brooke Zeiger competes in the women's 400 individual medley finals in the Jean K. Freeman Aquatics Center on Dec. 5.

Daily File Photo

Gophers sophomore Brooke Zeiger competes in the women’s 400 individual medley finals in the Jean K. Freeman Aquatics Center on Dec. 5.

Alyssa Hodenfield

The Minnesota swim and dive teams are looking ahead to a big weekend.

Five Gophers and head coach Kelly Kremer will head to the first-ever USA College Challenge meet in Indianapolis, while the rest of the team hosts the Minnesota Invitational beginning on Thursday.

Freshman Lindsey Horejsi, senior Jakub Maly, junior Conner McHugh, senior Kierra Smith, and junior Brooke Zeiger will represent Minnesota at the meet.

The USA College Challenge meet features a two-day short course meet with collegiate scoring and gives Big Ten athletes a chance to compete against swimmers from the U.S. National Team.

Kremer will join Michigan coach Mike Bottom as the assistant coach for the Big Ten women’s team.

“He and I were actually on a staff together, so it’s fun to coach on the same team when you’re so used to coaching against one another,” Kremer said.

Junior Conner McHugh will be one to look for this weekend, and Kremer sees him succeeding.

“[McHugh] does all the things well that you’d expect or ever want and he’s very coachable,” Kremer said. “He really didn’t have the experience that the other guys have coming into school. Now 12 months later he’s been at the U.S. Olympic trials, NCAAs, and was selected as a member of this team. I think all these experiences are going to help him.”

McHugh won both the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke races in the Gophers’ season-opener against Wisconsin and at the home meet against Iowa. He also holds both the school and Big Ten records for the breaststroke.

“I feel like I’ve gotten much stronger this year in and out of the pool,” McHugh said. “The weight room has done a fantastic job of preparing me for being stronger in my races and finishing better than ever.”

The junior plans to go into the meet with an open mind, but looks forward to some competitive racing against U.S. National Team members.

“I’m feeling really confident going into this meet. I want to go close to my lifetime best if I can — that’s obviously the goal,” McHugh said. “I’ve never gone faster in season before, so all points are looking to having a good rest of the season for sure.”

Senior Jakub Maly, who holds school records in the 200 and 400 IM races, will also be one to look for at the USA College Challenge this weekend.

“I was excited since September to get the chance to race with other people from the Big Ten, really the best people of the Big Ten against a great team,” Maly said. “It really doesn’t really get much better than to race against the U.S. National team”

The USA College Challenge will air live on Big Ten Network and USA Swimming on both Saturday and Sunday.The Minnesota Challenge meet will be held at Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center Thursday through Saturday.

“We are in a great spot coming from last weekend. I’m kind of expecting swimming seasonal best times,” Maly said.