Just a month into the new season, the University of Minnesota men’s swimming team is already confidently clocking faster times than last year. At the conclusion of the NCAA tournament last spring, the Golden Gophers sat in 18th place, up six spots from 2012.
Looking to push themselves further up the rankings, this year’s team shows strong leadership from co-captains Derek Toomey and Luke Bushman and confidence through their freshman class. This season offers a lot of promise as the Maroon and Gold get deeper into conference swims. Coach Kelly Kramer describes his first year swimmers as “one of the most strong and deep recruiting classes.”
The road toward a stronger finish nationally starts with success within the conference; and the road to success in the Big Ten goes through Ann Arbor. The top ranked and defending conference champion Michigan Wolverines will look to remain the team to beat throughout the season. While Minnesota does not swim against the Maize and Blue in a dual this year, they have improved since swimming against them last season, when the Golden Gophers took second place in 11/14 swims.
Notably, the team has shaved more than two seconds off their best time in the 200-yard backstroke (Turner) and nearly as much in the 200-yard individual medley (Maly). Further, in the 50-yard freestyle (Toomey), Minnesota has not only improved their best time by nearly half a second, at 19.99, the time also passes the first place finish Michigan captured in their 2012 dual.
The Big Ten Championships next spring will serve as a measuring stick for Minnesota to show how much they have improved, not only against Michigan but also against Ohio State and Indiana- all three finished ahead of the fourth place Gophers at the end of last season.
Up next for Minnesota is a trip to Iowa City for a dual against conference rival Iowa, this Friday, Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. CT.