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Michigan obliterates Spartans, sets records

Paul Sherman/Daily
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By Shannon Lynch, Daily Sports Writer
Published January 27, 2013

EAST LANSING — When junior Angie Chokran jumped into McCaffree Pool for the first time at Michigan State, she knew her family was right there on deck to motivate her. And by family, she meant her 35 teammates that make up the No. 25 Michigan women’s swimming and diving team.

Most families like to relax on Friday nights — whether it’s hanging out at home, falling asleep on the couch or enjoying a worry-free evening. But this family had a very different agenda on Friday.

Mike Bottom — the father, if you will — was looking for more than just a victory out of his team: he wanted to break records. The Wolverines gave him just that, outscoring the Spartans 174-120 and shattering four pool records.

Before the team was even able to jump in the pool for warm-up, Bottom and his coaching staff gave his team what they like to call a “sudden change,” and the meet suddenly became about more than perfecting skills, techniques and speeds.

It became a game.

“The coaches start looking at the record board,” Chokran said. “I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ They made this game out of this meet and said, ‘What do we love to do? We love watching people break records.’ ”

Added Bottom: “You can see it’s an old facility; it’s got a lot of history, which is something I try to talk up. Those records are really old, right? They’ve been around for a while, so it’s a motivating setting for us as a Michigan team.”

McCaffree Pool was built in 1959, and many of the records held in that facility date back 30 years or more.

The Wolverines took their coach’s challenge to heart, starting off the meet with a victory in the 400-yard medley relay. They continued their success throughout the night, finishing with victories in 13 of 16 races and four pool records in the 100/200-yard backstroke and 100/200-yard breaststroke. Chokran earned the latter two records, with times of 1:01.28 and 2:15.05 respectively.

Chokran’s accomplishments have greatly contributed to the success of her team. She’s currently the third-ranked, 200-yard breaststroker and seventh-ranked 100-yard breaststroker in the Big Ten. Last week, she was named Big Ten Swimmer of the Week, in addition to winning three events on Jan. 18, contributing to the win over Ohio State.

“I couldn’t have done what I did today without (my teammates) behind me every step of the way and throughout this week,” Chokran said. “Like I said, the training was more important and I had people pushing me every single day.”

The victory against Michigan State was a family victory and wins in the relay heats showed the versatility and strength of a range of Michigan swimmers, including freshmen Ali Deloof, Zoe Mattingly and senior Deidre Jones, whose participation in the 400-yard medley relay and 200-yard freestyle relay led to two first-place spots.

“We were only a tenth off in both relays, which is even more special to me because that means our team is coming along,” Bottom said. “We have a lot of young girls so we’re excited for our future.”