MD

Sports

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Advertise with us »

Tankers set sights high for NCAAs

BY ANNE UIBLE: DAILY SPORTS WRITER

Published March 18, 2004

Three weeks ago, the No. 16 Michigan women’s swimming and
diving team entered the Big Ten Championship and was predicted to
finish in fifth place. After overcoming a 36-point deficit in the
last two events of the meet, the team walked away with the
title.

Sports Department
Michigan senior Sara Johnson is preparing to lead the No. 16 Wolverines into the NCAA Championships this weekend (TONY DING/Daily).

More like this

Though they don’t expect to earn this weekend’s NCAA
title, the Wolverines are entering the meet with the same mentality
they had for Big Tens.

“We’re not going to this meet to count points, and
I’m honestly not worried about the place we come in because
it is a waste of effort,” coach Jim Richardson said.
“As long as we keep our minds focused on our attitude and
having fast races, there’s nothing more to do.”

Even though the team says it isn’t concerned with how it
places, the athletes are nervous about the intense competition.

“Nationals is such a step-up in the competition
level,” senior captain Sara Johnson said. “As tough as
it is to get there, there’s always a voice in the back my
head asking, ‘Can I really swim that fast?’”

The Wolverines have nine swimmers and one diver qualified to
compete in College Station, Texas, where Texas A&M will host
the championships. There were a total of 14 events with automatic
qualifications, 10 events with consideration qualifications and
five relay berths.

Senior diver Tealin Kelemen was the final athlete to qualify for
the meet last week when she placed in the top five of the one-,
three- and ten-meter events at the NCAA Zone meet in Bloomington.
This will mark her first appearance at the NCAA Championships.

“It’s a great culmination of her hard work over the
past four years,” Michigan diving coach Chris Bergere
said.

The meet will run from today through Saturday, with preliminary
races taking place in the morning and qualified final races
scheduled for the evenings. Michigan has swimmers qualified in all
but one individual event (200-meter butterfly)

“We’re swimming all five relays and we have people
competing in just about every race,” Richardson said.
“It’s hard to judge which day will be our toughest
because any day we’re swimming, I feel that will be a good
day for us.”

Though the Wolverines haven’t competed in three weeks,
Richardson feels that the team is much more ready and confident
with its speed and strength than it was before the conference
competition.

“I think the Big Ten Championships has really prepared us
for this meet,” Richardson said. “We swam through seven
sessions without blinking, so I think we’ll be able to handle
the NCAA Championships. The girls are trained to the best of their
ability, and I think they’re confident about doing
well.”

Richardson has a few experienced swimmers competing this
weekend, but he is excited to see how a pair of freshmen deal with
their first NCAA Championship. Lindsey Smith, who has an Olympic
Trial cut in the 200-yard freestyle, won this year’s Big Ten
title in the event. Susan Gilliam also performed well at the
conference championships, taking home a second-place finish in the
400-freestyle.

Richardson also believes that Johnson will have a great meet.
She is one of the more experienced NCAA Championship competitors on
the Michigan squad and is scheduled to swim the 200-meter
individual medley and the 100- and 200-meter backstroke. This is
the third year she has qualified for the meet.

“Sara will be one of the shortest athletes at the
meet,” Richardson said. “It’s so great to see her
compete.”


|