Over the last decade, no three men’s swimming and diving programs have spelled dominance more than California, Texas and Michigan.

In that span, no other school has taken home the title at the NCAA Championships besides these three. Last year, the Golden Bears dethroned the Longhorns from their reign of four consecutive championship titles to secure their fifth title of the decade. Amongst this fierce competition, the Wolverines won their sole title of the decade in 2013.

This week, across five days of action featuring seven different schools, all three top-tier teams faced off against one another at the Minnesota Invitational — a meet featuring premier race matchups that will be seen again at the NCAA Championships in March.

With the help of dominant performances in the diving well from junior Ross Todd and senior Jake Herremans, as well as success in relays and breastroke events, No. 5 Michigan (3-1) held its own against No. 1 Texas (4-0) and No. 2 California (1-0). The Wolverines finished in second place behind the Longhorns, proving that this season they retain the firepower to stand amongst the giants of collegiate swimming and diving.

Beyond team-wide success at this meet, there was a significant focus for Michigan swimmers and divers to notch times and scores that qualify them for NCAA Championships.

And they did just that.

Eight individual swimmers and all five Wolverine relays qualified for the NCAA Championships, clocking in either ‘A or ‘B cut times

On the first day of competition, Michigan got off to an impressive start, placing second and fourth in the 800-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relays, respectively. In the 800-yard freestyle, sophomore Patrick Callan recorded an unofficial career-best in the 200-yard freestyle, with a split of 1:33.52 and led the Wolverines to the third-fastest time in the event this season. 

Callan also impressed in individual events, recording a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:32.91 the second-fastest time in program history.

In the diving well, Michigan’s divers were dominant from start to finish. Todd took first place in all three events and was particularly dominant in platform diving, in which he out-scored a second place Herremans by nearly 100 points with a score of 436.40. Todd and Herremans both made the A cut for the NCAA Championships in platform diving, and junior Chris Canning joined the pair in qualifying for the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events. 

“(The divers) are stepping up because they know they are being counted on,” said Michigan coach Mike Bottom. “They are doing a great job. You can see the results. They scored some big points for us.”

In one of the biggest meets of their final season, Michigan’s senior swimmers made the most of their moment.

In the 200-yard breastroke, Tommy Cope and Jeremy Babinet both recorded for A cuts at the NCAA Championships, placing fifth and sixth, respectively. Babinet also qualified for the 100-yard breastroke, taking third place with a time of 51.63 the second-fastest time in program history. In the 1,650-yard freestyle, Felix Auböck finished second with a time of 14:42.29, punching his own ticket to the NCAA Championships.

“The experiences they’ve gone through over the past three-and-a-half years is paying off,” Bottom said. “They stepped up and raced against the best of the best. Maybe we don’t beat them but at least we’re racing them. It’s a continual fight.” 

As the Wolverines look forward to conference dual meets for the rest of their regular season, including a matchup against No. 4 Indiana, a standout performance against some of the best teams in the country will pay dividends in terms of their confidence. 

“We were going against the national (competitors) which gives us a better indicator of where we are,” Bottom said. “We are trying to get ourselves back in the top five to be able to compete against them…It’s not about beating that team. It’s about racing that team and competing against them.”

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