On the road for the final meet, the Michigan men’s swim and dive team (6-1 overall) was faced with a lamentable conclusion to their season. It was a steep climb to get to the championship level, but the path to succeed once there proved even steeper.
Only ten Wolverines were qualified for the four-day event. Of that list, only one competed in the dive portion.
Going into the championships, Michigan coach Mike Bottom knew it would be a struggle. Even with an impressive regular season record, there was simply not enough preparation for the higher level of competition the Wolverines would be met with at the NCAA Championships.
Michigan was met with health-related issues during their season, and this on top of a nervousness to compete at a higher level brought problems for the Wolverines.
“This was a difficult situation for us,” Bottom said. “I was really proud of the way the guys stuck together and supported each other.”
Michigan struggled to make it past the preliminary rounds of most of its events, and when it did, the results were less than satisfactory.
Of the five relays they swam, the Wolverines were only able to find relative success with three: the 200 medley relay, the 200 freestyle relay and the 800 freestyle relay. Freshman Gal Groumi, junior Cam Peel, junior Nadav Aaronson and senior Will Chan got the highest placement of the relay teams, but ultimately came up shorter than they desired with a 13th overall finish.
In the individual events, only two other performances gained recognition in the form of honors: senior Jared Daigle and Groumi.
Daigle swam in three events, but his main achievement came from the 400 individual medley. He placed 6th in the B-final and 14th overall, earning three points towards the team score.
His teammate, Groumi, had a considerable amount of success in comparison. Dancing around Michigan records, the freshman was able to set a new one in the 200 IM with a time of 1:41.09, and tied the old record for the 100 Butterfly with a time of 44.82. For these performances, he was awarded with an 11th and 10th place overall finish.
Even with the new record in his pocket and with more years ahead of him, Groumi was dissatisfied with the conclusion to the event.
“I wanted to go faster, I thought I could go faster,” Groumi said. “I’m going to get better for next time.”
Michigan was unable to find success any higher than in the B-finals, and it’s failure to qualify for true final championships was indicative of their struggle to perform. The Wolverines ultimately had to close out their season taking 22nd at the NCAA Championships.
Looking forward, Michigan hopes to capitalize on the success of younger swimmers to build momentum in the off season.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” Bottom said. “The coaches and team understand that we need to get better for next year.”