MINNEAPOLIS, MN, September 15. UNIVERSITY of Minnesota men¹s swimming diving staff announced last week that the program will embark on a historic season in 2004-05.
They announced their season schedule, which is highlighted by the hosting of the 2005 Big Ten and NCAA Championships exactly a month apart at the University Aquatic Center. The University becomes the first Big Ten institution to host both Championships since Michigan State in 1967.
The Big Ten Championships will be held Feb. 24-26 at the Aquatic Center. Minnesota is the defending champion and has won three of the last four conference meets. The NCAA Championships will be held March 24-26. The Gophers, who finished ninth at the meet in 2004, has made five consecutive NCAA top-10 finishes.
³It¹s obviously good exposure for our program,² head coach Dennis Dale said. ³We have an amazing pool but more than anything, it¹s a great opportunity for our athletes to compete in front of their home crowd.²
Minnesota returns eight All-Americans from its 2004 Big Ten champion team. After taking the 2003-04 season off from collegiate competition, Justin Mortimer returns to the team. During his departure, Mortimer recently won national titles in the 200, 800 and 1500 meter freestyles and the 400 individual medley at the Summer National Championships in Palo Alto, Calif. The Gophers also return two Olympians, Mario Delac and Igor Cerensek, who competed for Croatia in Athens.
The Gophers open the regular season schedule at Florida on October 29. The Gators finished sixth at the 2004 NCAA Championships. Minnesota then heads to Chapel Hill, N.C. to take on North Carolina and Virginia Tech in a triple dual. The Tar Heels finished 23rd at the 2004 NCAA meet. Minnesota opens its home slate Nov. 19-21 with the annual Minnesota Invitational at the University Aquatic Center. Minnesota completes the semester at the traditionally strong Georgia Invitational in Athens, Ga., held Dec. 3-5.
Following a winter training trip in Hawaii, the Gophers host Iowa and North Dakota on Jan. 22 and travel West Lafayette, Ind. to face Purdue and Wisconsin. The Gophers will host the Minnesota Challenge at the Aquatic Center Feb. 4-5 to close out the regular season.
Dale is entering his 20th year as Minnesota's head coach. He has led the Gophers to 13 straight top-15 finishes at the NCAA Championships and five Big Ten titles during his tenure. His athletes have earned 240 All-America certificates.