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First annual Water Carnival a fun success

BY PETER DENNIS
For the Daily
Published October 7, 2012

At Michigan’s first annual Water Carnival, the pool deck turned into a circus.

Complete with with diving bicycles, peculiar events and a water polo scrimmage, the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team hosted Minnesota and Oakland at Canham Natatorium, where the theme of the day was more fun than competition. With events such as the 50-yard freestyle underwater with fins, the meet was not scored and did not count toward any of the competing schools’ records.

“I wanted to get the word out,” said Michigan coach Mike Bottom. “This was a lot of fun, and that’s one of the reasons we did it, so that we would increase the exposure of swimming, diving and water polo to this community.”

After the Wolverines’ first loss at the hands of the reigning Big Ten champion Minnesota the prior night, the Water Carnival was a great way for the team to shift gears and prepare for the season ahead, Bottom said.

The Water Carnival featured a 3-on-3 water polo match on one side of the pool and a unusual diving spectacle on the other.

The men’s and women’s diving teams, clad in bizarre costumes, jumped off trampolines, rolled bikes off the platform and used other strange props. Since the diving portion of the Water Carnival mainly took place during the 1,650-yard relay, the whole crowd shifted its focus to the diving platforms.

“I think it was fun because there was so many things going on,” said senior Val Barthelemy. “In the middle of the long events to keep things interesting, they had the diving show which is always a blast, so I think the relaxed atmosphere made for a fun environment.”

The crowd seemed unsure of what was going to happen when the first diver started off the event sitting backward on the tallest platform in a folding chair. As he fell backward into the diving pool, an audible gasp was heard before it was replaced with a rousing applause.

Barthelemy competed in the 50-yard freestyle with fins, which sophomore Kayla Douglas finished first.

“I thought that was pretty fun,” Barthelemy said. “When you put those fins on, you feel like Michael Phelps.”

Michigan has another week off from Big Ten competition next weekend, when it hosts its annual alumni and intrasquad meet.

“The alumni always come in here thinking they’ll beat our guys,” Bottom said. “But this year, I don’t think they’ll be able to.”