Last time the No. 7 Michigan men’s swimming and diving team (1-1) competed at Indiana’s Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center, the Wolverines took home a Big Ten championship.
This Saturday, nearly a year later, Michigan split a double dual meet at the venue against Northwestern (0-2) and the No. 9 Hoosiers (2-0) in its season opener. It soundly defeated the Wildcats, 229.5-70.5, but stumbled against Indiana in a 173-127 loss.
The Wolverines were able to push the extra yard to win some big events, but they struggled to find consistency throughout the day. In some races, Michigan would take the lead momentarily, only for an Indiana swimmer to ultimately squeeze out the victory.
While the team lost to a rival, Michigan coach Mike Bottom noted the distance between competitions for many of the Wolverines. Senior diver Ross Todd, who took second and third in the 3-meter and 1-meter dives, respectively, was happy with his performance, considering it was his first competition in nine months.
Todd’s plan for the meet was to keep up the quality of his dives, something he did well.
“I was very consistent,” Todd said. “I didn’t do anything extraordinary, but I didn’t really miss and that’s the name of the game with diving, just landing upside down six times in a row.”
Last season, Todd was named the Big Ten co-diver of the championship. This time around, he faced Indiana’s Andrew Capobianco, an Olympic diver who took a redshirt season last year to train for the Tokyo Games.
Heading into Saturday, Todd knew he would have to step up his game.
“Going to the events, (I was) just trying to compete against myself because that’s all I can do,” Todd said. “I can’t control what my competitors are doing.”
Capobianco’s competition level inspired Todd to bring his A-game, especially when the divers will likely square off at the Big Ten Championship in February.
“I want Andrew to compete at his best because that also brings the best out of me and having that competitive environment only makes things more interesting — only benefits me and my training and my practice and competition experience,” Todd said. “(However) it is quite intimidating competing against someone that good.”
Michigan benefitted from the contributions of some young faces, including freshman Wyatt Davis, who earned first in the 200-yard backstroke and second overall in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard backstroke.
Bottom noticed how hard junior Jared Daigle competed to win the 200-yard individual medley. He also praised junior AJ Bornstein for his intensity in winning the 200-yard breaststroke, noting that he faced off against a talented group of swimmers to earn points for his team.
The team performed well in relays, capturing first in the 200-yard medley relay and taking second and third in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Since Michigan won the Big Ten Championship last season, this meet raised some questions regarding its ability to go back-to-back in the face of tough competition like the Hoosiers. While the Wolverines showed flashes of brilliance, the meet highlighted how tough competing in the Big Ten will be.
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