Sept. 20, 2012
Gophersports.com caught up with Minnesota head swimming and diving coach Kelly Kremer to preview the 2012-13 season. The Golden Gophers open the year with a dual meet at Michigan Oct. 5-6 in Ann Arbor.
What are your expectations for the 2012-13 season?
“We are going to have more NCAA qualifiers and we are going to improve on our 24th place finish from a year ago. I think those are the really common and obvious goals. Our staff is completely together, happy and seems to be on the same page, the same chapter, and our team seems to be more motivated than they have ever been. We are at a point where everybody is hungry and ready to go, so my expectations are that we’re going to continue that. Everybody is going to continue to feel that way as we go through the year and become more motivated as we start to get into the dual meet season and compete against the other teams.”
What are a few of your strengths as a team?
“We are a pretty balanced team right now. Every event is pretty strong for us in both swimming and diving. Another strength we have is our leadership. I feel really good not only about our captains Derek Toomey and Jared Anderson, but I feel really good about our senior leadership. They’ve been here long enough to see the things we do well and see the things that they would like to see us do better. They are doing a great job of pulling the newcomers in and helping the underclassmen get their feet on the ground.”
What can we expect from the freshman class?
“This year’s freshman class is not a very big group, but the quality is fantastic. We have a guy like Logan Redondo who is an outstanding distance swimmer. He has about the same times coming in the door as CJ Smith had coming in the door, and CJ was an All-American for us last year as a freshman. I’m looking forward to pairing him up with CJ and watching these two guys train together and push each other.
Ben Bravence is a very hard worker from a very hard working club, the Kansas City Blazers. Just watching him interact with the team and how he looks around the pool right now, he is ready to go. He’s ready to get to it and take his swimming to a higher level.
Ryan Miksch is an interesting story because he commuted 45 minutes one way to get to practice while he was in high school. Now that he is somewhere that he can literally role out of bed and fall into the pool is really going to help him. You can see the lengths he will go to be a great swimmer. To surround him with our resources, our student-athletes and our support staff, I think he’s going to grow quickly. I could go name-by-name but there are just so many newcomers that I think are going to have an athletic impact on our team this year.”
Who do you see as your biggest competition?
“Michigan won the Big Ten title last year, so I think they are the team to go after. Until somebody else wins a Big Ten title, they are the team to go after. We have a dual meet against them to start the year that will tell us where we’re at relative to the best team in the conference. I’m looking forward to that dual and I know our team is too.
The Big Ten itself, whether you finish first in the conference or you finish 10th, every one of those teams is really, really sound. We’re excited to compete against the teams in the Big Ten, but there is no question when you’re at Minnesota the expectations year in and year out are that you’re competing for Big Ten titles. We weren’t in the discussion last year and we need to get back into being a team that is competing for a Big Ten Championship.”
What are a few of your goals for this season?
“Talking to the captains and some of the seniors, improvement is the first goal and I think it starts with the most important meet for us, the NCAA Championships. We need to have more NCAA qualifiers than we had a year ago. We also need to move up the national ranks. Finishing outside of the top 15 is so rare for us. It has probably happened only once or twice in the last 30 years, and we finished 24th last year. It is an anomaly and we need to prove it. We also have a team goal of getting back in the discussion of being a Big Ten Champion. We want to be a team that is in that discussion every single year.”
How does hosting the Women’s Big Ten Championships affect the men’s team?
“We are together so much that I think both teams rub off on each other from time to time and I think you do get excited about hosting a major Big Ten Championship. All of the Big Ten teams will come in to compete against our women while our men will be practicing and tapering for their meet the following week. They’re in that atmosphere and it is easy to get excited. I know it’s an advantage because there is no question that the men feed off of that a little bit, particularly as the meet gets closer.”