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Swimmers, divers headline a day of fun at the first Michigan Water Carnival

BY ISABELLA ACHENBACH
Daily Sports Writer
Published October 6, 2012

The Minnesota (0-1 Big Ten, 0-1 overall) and Oakland swimming and diving teams must have been shocked coming into their first regular season action and racing in events that have never been held in a college meet.

On Saturday, Michigan (2-0 Big Ten, 2-0 overall) held its first ever Water Carnival, which included swimming, diving and a three-on-three water polo scrimmage. The Water Carnival was an exhibition, and he three teams were simply partaking in some playful competition.

The 50-yard underwater dolphin kick was what Mark Hill, the assistant coach and carnival coordinator, was most excited to see. Swimmers glided through the entire length of the pool with flippers on their feet and their full bodies submerged. Redshirt junior Hassaan Abdel Khalik took first place in the event.

The day was sprinkled with many relays and events such as the 200 yard independent medley (in any order) and the 300 yard breaststroke with fins and flykick.

Sophomore Richard Funk and junior Kyle Duckitt, both breaststroke swimmers, battled in a Twitter war which commenced two weeks earlier to create hype for Saturday’s event. Funk wrote “#TeamFunk” across his bare chest in black marker while Duckitt sported “#TeamDuckitt.”

“It was just a friendly rivalry on twitter that started between me and Kyle Duckitt to try to generate some hype for this event,” said Funk. “The stands are pretty packed, so I think it was a success.”

Duckitt beat Funk in the 300 yard breaststroke but Funk placed first in the 50 yard event.

The Wolverines won 10 of the 14 events and three of the four events using fins.

Next to the lap pool is the diving well, above which looms the diving platform. The platform is very large and 33-feet high. But yesterday, the once ominous platform was converted into a slumber party hot spot.

The men and women’s diving teams, dressed in rainbow colored pajamas covered with tacky images of animals and toys, huddled together on the platform. The many fans in attendance lost focus on the women’s 1,650 yard freestyle relay going on in the adjacent pool; clearly something was going to happen up on that platform. The divers were all gathered around a man sitting on a folding chair, until he tipped too far back in the chair and was suddenly falling from the sky, only to land a perfect dive.

This was when fans knew the Carnival had officially begun.

“It definitely takes the right kind of person to be a diver,” junior Jack Lee said. “You have to be really fearless and be willing to try new things. And I guess we’re all adrenaline junkies.”

Divers jumped off with all kinds of tricks up their sleeves and props in their hands. Aerial silks, bicycles, broomsticks, umbrellas, a trampoline and a toy bow and arrow were among the items used in the show.

Everyone in the natatorium seemed to be enjoying themselves—especially the competitors. Divers snacked on cotton candy and popcorn while on deck and hung out in the hot tub between their dives. A ball toss competition served as intermission for the Carnival. Throughout the day, fans oohed and ahhed, but mostly cheered.

“This is an exclamation mark to a great week of training and it’s the way we try to end all of our weeks, with a little but of fun, fast swimming,” coach Mike Bottom said, adding that he hopes the carnival will take place again next year.