The last time the Michigan men’s swimming and diving team lost a dual meet, Rich Rodriguez was still the coach of the Michigan football team, Tik Tok by Ke$ha was the No. 1 song in America, Snapchat had not been created yet and the unemployment rate was at 9.8 percent.
But with their 167-133 loss at No. 4 Indiana on Friday, so too vanished the Wolverines’ streak of 55 straight dual meet victories, dating back to November of 2010.
“Obviously it’s very disappointing to lose a meet,” said junior PJ Ransford. “We’ve had a streak of wins going back to before I got to Michigan, and it’s disappointing to be the team that lets that streak end.”
No. 13 Michigan — now 80-5-1 in dual meets since 2007 — was nearly able to squeak out the victory on the road in Bloomington, with narrow margins at the top of the scoreboard determining many of the races. Ransford even called the meet the Wolverines’ “best performance of the year.” Eight of the 16 races were decided by less than half a second, three of which were determined by less than a tenth of a second.
The Wolverines also placed 2-3-4 in three events and 2-3-4-5 in two events. It was that first-place finish, though, that proved elusive in too many races to overcome.
Despite victories from Ransford in the 1,000-yard freestyle, junior Tristan Sanders in the 200-yard backstroke and freshman Felix Auböck in the 500-yard freestyle, the Hoosiers won 13 of the 16 races, enough to hold off the Wolverines’ depth.
But with the Big Ten Tournament looming, the team thinks this loss could be a blessing in disguise. For the first time in years, Michigan will not head into the conference tournament as the prohibitive favorite, and Ransford does not seem to mind.
“While we always go into (the Big Ten Championship) wanting to win, I think losing to these guys once this year just adds a little bit more motivation,” he said. “We have never really been in an underdog role in recent years, and I think we have to embrace that as a team over the next two months. Big Tens is going to be a battle, and every extra bit of motivation we can get will help”
Added Bottom: “I think (motivation) depends on how much pain they feel and how much they don’t want to feel that pain again. They know what it’s like now to have a streak as glorious as the one we had broken. They feel the pain, and I hope they feel the loss. The word is ‘Hey, if you don’t want to have this happen again then we need to get better.’ ”
The Big Ten Tournament starts in just over a month, with dual meets against Ohio State and Michigan State in between. And if the Wolverines are able to take down Indiana — along with plenty of other formidable Big Ten opposition — to win the title, they might just look back on this meet as the wake-up call they needed.