Less than 24 hours after dominating Purdue in its first Big Ten matchup, the Michigan men’s swim and dive team had a short turn around.
Despite the short rest, the Wolverines’ swimmers and divers weren’t slowed down on Saturday as they took on Northwestern. Michigan (3-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) overwhelmed the Wildcats (1-1, 0-1) by winning 13 of 16 events en route to a 204-95 victory.
The first of the 13 wins came in the opening event as the quartet of junior backstroker Wyatt Davis, sophomore breaststroker Brendan Fitzpatrick, sophomore butterflies Gal Groumi and junior freestyler Bence Szabados posted a 1:26.66 in the 200-yard medley relay. Davis led the relay with a particularly strong performance.
“21.66 is probably the best I’ve been in season,” Davis said. “I just think that shows for some really good swims later this season.”
Following their win, the distance swimmers competed in the 1000-yard freestyle. Michigan graduate student backstroker Jared Daigle dominated the event, with a time of 9:12.10 — a full 15 seconds faster than the runner up. Freshman Ryan Hume and junior Jack Callan placed third and fourth respectively, extending the Wolverines’ lead to 27-9.
Northwestern found its first taste of success in the 100-yard breaststroke. Kevin Houseman won the event, but Houseman was followed closely by three Michigan swimmers, thwarting the chance of a Northwestern comeback.
The Wildcats had their strongest event of the day following Houseman’s win — the 200-yard butterfly. Federico Burdisso and Ben Miller placed first and second in an event that saw the Wolverines struggle for the first time all day.
Just before the intermission the Michigan rebounded to balloon its lead even further, thanks to a dominating performance in the 50-yard freestyle. Szabados led the way, with seniors Cam Peel and Andrew Trepanier just behind him. With the three swimmers finishing on top, it piled on the points and held a commanding 46 point lead, 98-52.
Burdisso continued to give the Wolverines trouble, narrowly winning the 100-yard freestyle — five-hundredths of a second ahead of Szabados. Szabados’s teammates backed him up finishing third and fourth, making up for Burdisso’s win in the scope of the match.
From then on, Michigan didn’t face any roadblocks, with its swimmers winning race after race, and the team continuing to expand its lead.
After winning the medley relay at the beginning of the match, Davis made his mark in the later events. He won three individual races — the 100 yard backstroke, 200 yard backstroke and the 100 yard butterfly, the latter of which the Wolverines took the top three spots in.
“I think it’s just a lot of fun being able to go into those races and score as a team,” Davis said.
The divers were winning with just as much conviction as the swimmers. Gammage swept both the one meter and three meter diving events. He outshined his competitors convincingly with a score 365.70 — 74.92 points ahead of the nearest competitor — adding to Michigan’s lead. In the three meter, Gammage wasn’t quite as dominant, as three Northwestern divers finished just behind him.
“Three meters is definitely a lot harder to be consistent on,” Gammage said. “You’ve got to really, really hone in your focus.”
The 200 yard freestyle relay was the final event. Szabados, Groumi and Peel were joined by fifth-year Nikola Acin, capping Michigan’s impressive day with a final win that extend the tally to the final score of 204, a 119 point margin of victory.
Across all events Michigan thoroughly flexed its strength against a strong Big Ten foe. The Wolverines could make a strong push for a Big Ten title if they maintain the ability to not only win events, but have strong performances from top to bottom like they did Saturday.