Normally, when Michigan and Michigan State face off, an intense showdown from the in-state rivalry is to be expected. But the Michigan’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams were all smiles during Saturday’s dual meet at Canham Natatorium. The Wolverine women swept every event to win, 180-81, and the men finished first in every event except diving to win in convincing fashion, 173-93.
Despite it being Senior Day, sophomore Clara Smiddy and freshman Becca Postoll claimed two individual events each, making their mark on the meet as underclassmen for the women’s team. Freshman Katie Duggan also won the 500-yard freestyle event to claim her first career individual win.
On the men’s side, nine Wolverines won individual events. Junior Jason Chen placed first in the 50-yard backstroke and the 100-yard individual medley, making him the lone male Wolverine to win two individual events. Senior Matt McNamara had an outstanding 50-yard breaststroke, in which he edged out Michigan State’s Alec Kandt by less than a tenth of a second.
Because of Michigan’s dominance in the meet, it was a bit of a surprise to see Michigan trailing the Spartans in the last event, the 200-yard freestyle relay. But Michigan senior Anders Lie Nielsen came from behind to win, ending the day on a high note.
“We had an all-senior relay in the end there, and we were trailing a little bit,” Nielsen said. “I just got really excited because I love winning. I love winning for the team, you know, so I didn’t really have a choice. I had to get my hand on the wall so I did it.”
The Wolverines used the dual meet as an opportunity to experiment, placing athletes out of their comfort zones and into different events than they normally swim. Senior Dylan Bosch, an Olympic hopeful, tried out the 500-yard freestyle event, which was a departure from his normal butterfly events. He won by a significant margin of more than 15 seconds.
“Today’s theme was just to celebrate each other and to have fun,” said Bosch. “We always try to swim as hard as we can in everything we do. I think it’s actually kind of good to not always put a huge emphasis on your event and the three that you’re going to be swimming at championships.”
For the men, this win closed out their fifth undefeated season, and for the women, it gave them an opportunity to prepare for the Big Ten Tournament, which they will be hosting in two weeks.
“It’s super exciting that we’re hosting Big Tens,” said senior Sarah Kamstra. “Today, we were all focusing on thinking of this as a rehearsal almost of the next meet, really just working on consistency.”
The men’s team will be resting up for their own Big Ten Championships, which start Feb. 24. With the help of their experienced seniors, both teams have a positive outlook for what is sure to be an exciting postseason.