Though Ann Arbor, Mich., sits about 4,500 miles from Jakub Maly’s hometown of Vienna, Austria, the freshman looked right at home at his first-ever Big Ten meet over the weekend.
“He swam like a guy who has a lot of big meet experience,” head coach Kelly Kremer said.
Maly finished fifth in the 400-yard individual medley, eighth in the 200-yard individual medley and 10th in the 200-yard breaststroke, and he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
“It was great,” Maly said. “I felt pretty good in the last week before the meet. I was hoping I could have a good performance.”
His performance helped Minnesota finish fourth at the Big Ten meet for the fourth year in a row.
“It says a lot to be in the top four consistently in the Big Ten … because there’s not a bad team in this conference,” Kremer said.
Michigan took home its fourth straight overall title with a score of 889 points. Indiana was second with 564, and Ohio State rounded out the podium with 515 points.
Kremer said he was satisfied with the fourth-place finish but also said the team wants to improve its standing in the future.
“We want to continue to move up the ranks,” he said. “We have goals and aspirations of finishing a lot higher than that, but I think our team took a step here.”
The Gophers had a rough start to the competition Friday night when they were disqualified from the 200-yard freestyle relay and ended the session in sixth place.
“It was a good test,” junior CJ Smith said. “I don’t think our team could have responded any better.”
Smith‘s fourth-place finish in the 1,650-yard freestyle and senior Derek Toomey‘s second-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle helped the Gophers surge into fourth place in the final standings.
“I could not be more proud of the way our team responded after,” Kremer said. “We were really at our best … in the last three sessions of the meet. That says a lot about the type of team we have and the men we have on this team.”
Still, Kremer said he thought there was room for improvement within the team.
“We had a lot of really great performances,” he said. “Then we had some swims and dives that we wish we could have back. It was kind of an up-and-down meet for us.”
Toomey and senior Kyler Van Swol represented the former.
In addition to his second-place finish, Toomey won his first individual Big Ten championship with a victory in the 50-yard freestyle.
And Van Swol’s second-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly represented his first Big Ten medal. Van Swol capped the meet with a sixth-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly.
“They’ve been leaders of this team … for a long time,” Kremer said. “We’re just fortunate to have leaders like that.”
While the Gophers had their ups and downs at the conference meet, Kremer said he’s excited to see how the guys respond at the NCAA championships.
“We’ve got a bunch [of big-meet swimmers],” he said. “That’s what’s going to help us in four weeks at [the] NCAAs.”