Michigan makes waves at NCAAs

Junior G Ryan was part of Michigan’s historic 800-yard freestyle relay that swam a time of 6:53.63.

Junior G Ryan was part of Michigan’s historic 800-yard freestyle relay that swam a time of 6:53.63. Buy this photo
Haley McLaughlin/Daily
Sunday, March 19, 2017 - 6:20pm

In Indianapolis this weekend, the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team did something it has yet to do this millennium. The Wolverines scored their most points at the NCAA national meet since 1999, finishing 11th with 159 points. 

The four-day meet kicked off with a historical performance by Michigan’s 800-yard freestyle relay, which finished third, with a time of 6:53.63. The team, comprised of sophomores Siobhan Haughey, Rose Bi, and juniors G Ryan and Gabby DeLoof, became the first Michigan relay to earn NCAA All-American honors in any of the five relays in the last 10 years.

Michigan coach Mike Bottom noted how strongly his team responded to the intensity of the meet.

“We are showing an understanding of how to get better through a difficult process,” Bottom said. “That’s what life is all about.” 

A grand total of 12 Michigan school records fell at the national meet as well. Of the 13 student athletes sent to the national meet, eight individuals and three relays earned All-American honors. 

One of those All-Americans was junior Clara Smiddy. Smiddy placed in the 200-yard backstroke for the second year in a row, and further bested her school record to 1:50.71. 

After a scratch by Tennessee’s Maddy Banic in the 100-yard butterfly on Friday, Michigan freshman Vanessa Krause, the first alternate, capitalized on the last-minute opportunity to score for Michigan. Smiddy recalled the support received by Krause.

“There’s always this sense of unity,” Smiddy said. “We had a sudden change where Krause had to swim a 100-yard butterfly with only a 300-yard warm up. That is really difficult to do, and she did a really good job by scoring. We were all behind her, cheering her on, there was a really strong sense of the team.” 

Freshman diver Kristen Hayden and senior diver Allie Murphy each contributed points to Michigan’s 11th place finish by scoring in the platform and three-meter, respectfully. Their accomplishments mark the first time since 1994 that two divers have scored at the national meet. Coach Bottom commented on the performance of the three divers that scored points for Michigan. 

“We are really united,” Bottom said. “We are really excited that divers scored. It’s exciting to see them practicing and stepping up and scoring.”

Reflecting upon the weekends highs and lows, Bottom said he wanted to recover from the intensity of the week and look towards the future.

“It was an exhausting four days,” Bottom said. “It was exhausting, but we are still standing.” 

And standing they are. The Wolverines will be back in the pool on Monday, and, next week, the men’s team heads to Indianapolis for its national meet.

Looking towards the future, Bottom discussed how he felt building unity was important when gearing up for the future. 

“We are going to continue to build this team,” Bottom said. “We are going to keep pushing to do better both in and out of the water, caring for each other and fighting for Michigan.”

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