- Teresa Mathew/Daily
BY PETER DENNIS
For the Daily
Published September 30, 2012
For a team that practiced without a coach all summer, the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team is doing just fine.
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Under normal circumstances, a team with 10 seniors would be considered a veteran squad, one with enough experience to help the 10 new freshmen. But following the retirement of longtime women’s head coach Jim Richardson, the team was held in limbo, balancing its lack of a coach with the necessity of preparing for its upcoming season.
Mike Bottom, also the men’s swimming and diving coach, was hired to coach both teams and juggle the responsibility of both sides after having led the men’s team for the past four seasons.
“They sat all summer not knowing who the coach would be,” Bottom said. “But as soon as the decision was made, they came right in and gave 100 percent support behind us, even though we hadn’t hired our staff yet.”
With such a large both incoming and outgoing class, the team really came together as a unit.
“The truth is, (the entire team is) all freshmen to us,” Bottom said. “To the coaching staff, they’re all freshmen. And that’s the exciting thing ― they’re all as excited about coming here as freshmen. Their eyes are all wide, and whenever I talk to the group, they’re just lapping it up, they want more. And what a great place to be as a coach.”
By virtue of the vacancy of the coaching position, the Wolverines were forced to rely on each other to come together.
“It’s definitely nice having that 10 (seniors) and 10 (freshman),” said freshman Zoe Mattingly. “Not only the seniors have been helping, but every grade has been helping us out, helping us prepare for meets. Everyone is behind each other.”
With so much of the team having experience at higher levels of competition, including eight swimmers (three seniors, two juniors and three freshmen) competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer in Omaha, Neb., both the team’s freshman and upperclassman experience shone though in its win versus Wisconsin on Saturday.
Leading only by one point going into the 200-yard individual medley, late entry junior Melissa Lang and freshman Marni Oldershaw followed up junior Courtney Beidler, sweeping the event. Michigan’s sweep dealt the Badgers a death blow they were unable to recover from.
Freshman Ali DeLoof placed first in the 100-yard backstroke and fellow freshman Jessica Wolf led Wolverine swimmers in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Mattingly paired with senior Deirdre Jones to finish second and third respectively in the 200-yard butterfly.
“It was a great opportunity to be (at the U.S Olympic Trials),” Mattingly said. “It really shows you a completely different stage. It was nice because Michigan was there as well so I got to be with them and see how they handled a meet like that. I think it’s definitely helped me prepare for meets like this and hopefully the Big Ten (Championships) and possibly NCAAs.”