By Erin Lennon, For the Daily
Published October 6, 2012
A failure to finish first in any single event against Minnesota spelled the first loss of the season for the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team Friday evening at Canham Natatorium.
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The Wolverines were plagued by second place in their 196-99 loss to the defending Big Ten champion Golden Gophers.
After coming out on the winning end of a thrilling season opener against Wisconsin last Friday, the Wolverines posted eight individual second-place finishes and seven races in which they took second and third overall against Minnesota.
Michigan juniors Angela Chokran and Courtney Beilder, along with freshman backstroker Ali DeLoof, were among several runners-up in races decided by less than a tenth of second. Sweeps by the Golden Gophers in each of the freestyle events also proved key in the Michigan defeat.
Beidler had a pair of close races, narrowly missing out on first in the 200-yard butterfly. Senior Ashley Cohagen’s 200-yard backstroke was also one of the tightest races of the night.
By the scoreboard, the meet was a blowout, but both Cohagen and Michigan coach Mike Bottom said they saw positives from the Michigan swimmers.
“I think anytime you can get up and race the best in the Big Ten, it’s a really exciting day,” Cohagen said. “I think we were really excited to go out there and lay it on the line today, and I think we had some really good races.”
“I don’t see it as a loss,” Bottom added. “We knew that coming in here. What we wanted to do was race hard and be able to compete in every race. There were some great races within each race.”
Among its several returning Big Ten-champion swimmers, Minnesota showed off a freshman class ranked sixth in the nation.
Both Cohagen and Bottom spoke about the confidence that races in which the Wolverines “beat people they shouldn’t have beat,” as Cohagen put it, will build for the Michigan roster throughout the remainder of the season.
“It prepares us really well for future competition within the Big Ten,” Cohagen said.
The Wolverines’ loss comes in stark contrast to the men’s decisive victory over Minnesota during the dual-meet on Friday. Yet the celebration of the men’s 170-124 win, one in which the Wolverines took first in all 14 events, was one that was shared by the women’s team. Bottom, who added the women’s head coaching role to his résumé this year, cited the balance that has developed between the men’s and women’s teams as yet another source for confidence.
“You could see the men were cheering for the women, the women were cheering for the men,” Bottom said. “They see us now as one team as opposed to two teams.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams are back in the pool for the first-ever Michigan Water Carnival at noon on Saturday at Canham Natatorium.