By Isabella Achenbach, For the Daily
Published November 14, 2011
The Michigan men’s swimming and diving team spent this past weekend getting pruney in a pool alongside Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and some of the top swimmers in the world at the 2011 US Grand Prix in Minneapolis.
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“(The US Grand Prix) gives these guys exposure,” said Michigan coach Mike Bottom. “They understand what it’s like to swim against the best in the world.”
The Wolverines also swam in the meet last year. This time, two Michigan swimmers — junior Ryan Feeley and sophomore Sean Ryan — worked their way into the finals.
“If one of our guys makes it to the finals, it’s awesome,” Bottom said.
If two guys make it, it's cause for celebration.
Feeley earned fourth place overall with a time of 15:36.65 in the 1,500-meter freestyle. Ryan came in two spots behind with a time of 15:45.51 to earn a sixth-place finish.
“I didn’t even know I got fourth until I got back in Ann Arbor around 1 a.m.,” Feeley said. “It’s pretty nice getting those times this early in the season. My teammates are pushing me everyday in practice.”
After finding out his score, Feeley celebrated by getting some much-needed sleep.
The Wolverine swimmers entered this event after topping Texas and Indiana, their first Big Ten competitor, last Saturday. Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 5-0 overall) entered this week ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) — Texas now trails at No. 2.
“The swimming that we did last week elevated our expectations of who we are,” Bottom said.
Michigan kept up its reputation as the best collegiate swimmers in the country at the US Grand Prix. The meet was not scored, but many swimmers got their career-best times, Bottom said.
“We knew we could swim with the best after fighting with Texas,” Feeley said.
Six Grand Prix’s are held every year across the nation, each drawing hundreds of swimmers. Michigan and Minnesota were among the participating colleges, but the majority of the swimmers were either alums or professionals.
The races were “long course,” meaning an Olympic configuration 50-meter pool length as opposed to the typical 25 meters. Michigan usually swims a 25-meter pool, which gives the swimmers an extra turn. But Bottom's swimmers practice long course as well.
“Part of what Michigan does is, we are training people to make Olympic teams,” Feeley said. “That’s something we promote within the team and the club. Swim against the best in the world.”
The Wolverines will soon take on some of the other highest-ranked Big Ten schools: Iowa, Ohio State, and Indiana. The next Michigan swim meet, the Hawkeye Invitational, will be Dec. 2-4 in Iowa City.