With its bid to repeat as Big Ten champions falling short primarily because a relay team was disqualified for jumping early, the Gophers men’s swimming team has reason to be concerned about the method of measuring take-offs at the upcoming NCAA championships.
The national meet in Athens, Ga., on March 25-27 will include electronic pads on the starting platforms and pool walls, in place of event officials who watch for early jumps and clock finishing times.
“It is my belief that there will be more relays disqualified than ever before,” coach Dennis Dale said. “We hope that we will not be one of them.”
Dale also hopes that Minnesota will maximize its depth — the Gophers will send 11 swimmers and diver Dan Croaston — to make good on the team’s goal to finish in the top 10 nationally.
“Numbers are a start,” Dale said, “but they’ve got to do something when they get to the meet.”
Five Minnesota seniors will conclude their careers’ at the NCAAs, including stand-out Martin Zielinski.
The Bloomington, Minn., native has enjoyed a storied career, highlighted by a U.S. national championship in the 100-meter butterfly.
Fellow senior flier John Cahoy credits Zielinski with the elevation of his own abilities.
“I attribute almost all my success to having the opportunity to race against Martin for these past four years,” Cahoy said.
The teammates finished first and second at the Big Ten championships in the 100-fly, automatically qualifying each of them for the upcoming NCAAs. Cahoy took second, but holds no ill will.
“Martin had been having a not-so-stellar year,” Cahoy said. “For him to come through at Big Tens when it really mattered, it was the best thing that could have happened.”
Finishing the season with a flourish is indeed important to Zielinski, who acknowledged that his senior season hasn’t met his standards.
“I haven’t been swimming well since June, actually,” Zielinski said. “I think a reason why it mainly started last summer was (because) my focus was more on taking the Medical College Admittance Test.”
Having recently been accepted to medical school and coming off a strong Big Ten performance, Zielinski is looking for a solid finish at NCAAs. But when it’s over in Athens, it’s over for Zielinski as a swimmer, as well.
“I’m looking forward to being done,” Zielinski said. “I’ve been doing this for 13 years. It’s time to move on.”
Before he goes, however, Dale would like to see one of his best finish as such.
“I’m hopeful that he will have the kind of NCAA meet that he wants to go out on.”