Michigan swimming makes waves in 'tripleheader'

Sunday, October 9, 2016 - 5:30pm

The Michigan women’s swim and dive team blew Louisville out of the water this weekend in its season opener. The meet — dubbed a “tripleheader” — was divided into three separately scored sessions, including both individual and relay events, in which the distance of each race was decided by a roll of the dice. The Wolverines ultimately won all three sessions, 257-179, 274-196 and 266-205, respectively.

Michigan coach Mike Bottom said the aim of the meet’s randomized format was to add extra excitement and energy to a usually standardized format and provide opportunities for improvement. 

“They stepped it up and got better in a lot of different areas,” Bottom said. “The nice thing about doing this tripleheader is that they have a chance to improve with each game.” 

The tripleheader’s format kept coaches and athletes on their toes and heightened the competition as well.

“I think everyone was pretty nervous,” Haughey said. “Especially before the first session because we didn’t know what we were swimming or how to warm up and everyone was kind of panicking.” 

Simulating situations in which the swimmers have to adjust quickly to a changing lineup, the meet was perfect for facilitating practice for quick change. Sophomore Siobhan Haughey discussed the importance of being able to respond quickly both in and out of the water.

“At Michigan, we always talk about sudden change,” Haughey said. “In normal meets you’d be entered in one event but then the coaches might change their minds five minutes before the race. This meet was perfect to practice sudden change. Getting a bit uncomfortable, but then still executing and doing what you had to do.” 

Haughey is back from her successful Olympic debut in Rio, where she competed for Hong Kong. She made it to the semi-finals of the 200-meter freestyle and placed 13th overall. Now wearing a block ‘M’ on her cap, she opened her season with a win in the 200-yard individual medley and raced a leg in the winning 4x100 medley relay. She claimed the latter to be her favorite part of the meet.

Throughout the meet, athletes and coaches on both sides created a high-energy atmosphere by cheering on their team. The energy in the air contributed to many standout performances, including sophomore Yirong Bi, who won a total of five events, including a win in the 800-meter freestyle by a 10-second margin. 

While there were many individual standouts, the tripleheader focused on “The Team.” The Wolverines approached the event as a “Blue” weekend, according to Bottom, who emphasized the importance of having everyone score for the team. 

“You didn’t hear us yelling names,” Bottom said. “You heard us yelling ‘Go Blue,’ it’s about the team — it’s about taking names out of the team and making everybody part of the team. We don’t have our names on our jerseys, and when we cheer for our swimmers we say ‘Go Blue’ because we’re all part of the blue cloud.

“If we are going to possibly win the Big Ten championship that’s highly competitive, we have to do it as a team.”