Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh stayed busy during the football team’s bye week when he dove into the pool during the Michigan swimming and diving teams’ Water Carnival event.
Always the showman, Harbaugh had agreed to be a judge for a cannonball competition but was then baited into diving himself — stepping onto the platform donning his iconic pair of khakis and a Michigan hat before executing a near-perfect can-opener dive into the pool. The crowd went wild, as tweets from sports publications across the country started pouring out regarding Harbaugh’s fully-clothed descent into the pool.
“That was just Jim,” said Michigan men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach Mike Bottom. “Jim and I have a great relationship — so that was like a bait, and he took it, and he took it to the next level.”
Harbaugh did indeed take it to the next level, both literally and figuratively, as he executed the dive from the five-meter diving board. The cannonball competition that Harbaugh was judging was between a group of head coaches around the athletic department who were jumping off the one-meter board.
The dive took place during the Michigan Water Carnival, a fun-filled swim meet between the Michigan, Oakland and Calvin swimming and diving teams. This carnival-themed meet included a wide array of unorthodox events including the 300-yard butterfly with fins and the 25-yard freestyle knockout.
The freestyle knockout was the most intense race of the day as swimmers went head-to-head in this unique competition. The event was structured so that eight swimmers began the race each swimming a 25-yard distance. Then, the slowest of the eight was eliminated, reducing the competition by one. This process was repeated until only one swimmer remained and earned bragging rights around the locker room.
With each swimmer eliminated, the noise level increased as the crowd itched to see who would be crowned the winner. Eventually, it was Junior Catie DeLoof who won the women’s knockout and senior Paul Powers who won the men’s.
The rest of the meet was just as wild as former longtime diving coach Dick Kimball led a clown-themed diving show while other events were being conducted. The show featured members of the Michigan diving team, as they completed intricate dives including leap frogs, belly flops and even a dive off a bicycle. All of the divers were wearing carnival-themed costumes and many were utilizing unique props such as umbrellas and streamers.
While this event was just for kicks, the Wolverines still exhibited incredible talent, winning every single event except for the final mixed 400-yard freestyle relay, an event they lost by nine one-hundredths of a second.
This is the first time that Michigan has hosted the carnival in four years due to negotiations with Kimball over his eccentric dives.
“Dick was going off the 10 meter without his hands and landing on his head, and I said we can’t do this anymore,” Bottom said. “The pool’s named after him, so I can’t tell him what to do — so we couldn’t do it until he agreed not to do the dive.”
Thankfully, Kimball agreed and the Water Carnival is now back in the Canham Natatorium for all to enjoy.
“We had so much fun, I think we’re gonna be calling for it every year now,” said junior Becca Postoll. “It’s good fun, and you don’t get to do stuff like this all the time.”