With Michigan reeling from back-to-back wins by Indiana swimmers, it needed a boost. Senior Tommy Cope gave the Wolverines a win and a momentum shift in the 200-yard breaststroke. Cope nudged the Hoosiers’ Mohamed Samy Hassan by 0.93 seconds and helped narrow the deficit to only one point, 104-103.
The win helped spur the No. 3 Michigan men’s swimming team (4-1 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) to a 160-140 victory over No. 5 Indiana (6-3, 2-1) on Saturday morning.
“I knew that I couldn’t slip up or make any mistakes,” Cope said. “Because it’s a pretty crucial turning point in the meet. I knew that the other Michigan guys would be right there with me so you have to relax going into it. We just relaxed going into it and didn’t freak out too much. We knew how to do it and kind of started the ball rolling again for us.”
Michigan jumped out to an early lead with wins in the 200-yard medley relay and the 1000-yard freestyle, but Indiana started to chip away beginning with the 200-yard freestyle, which Hassan won by a matter of millimeters — touching the wall just 0.03 seconds before sophomore Patrick Callan did.
The Wolverines responded in the chaotic 50-yard freestyle. Junior Luiz Gustavo Borges edged two Hoosiers’ swimmers to momentarily stop the bleeding. But Indiana kept fighting back, winning the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke to take its first lead, before Cope’s performance in the 200-yard breaststroke changed the momentum.
Cope got some help from his teammates in the 500-yard freestyle, where Michigan swept the top three spots in the race and retook the lead, 119-107, in a sequence that electrified the crowd.
Senior Miles Smachlo continued the hot streak with a win in the 100-yard butterfly over the Hoosiers’ Brendan Burns, avenging an earlier loss to Burns in the 200-yard butterfly.
“Seeing everyone else on the team step up I really bought into that mentality.” Smachlo said, “You see people like Tommy (Cope) overcome Mohamed Samy in the (200) IM after losing to him earlier in the year. You see Patrick (Callan) stepping up. You see Eric Storms stepping up. I wanted to also kinda step up so I had a lot more energy to fight for that one and get my hand on the wall for the team.”
Indiana was able to come in first in the last event, a 400-yard relay. However, the gap still widened because the Wolverines placed in three out of the top five positions. The comeback victory was even more noteworthy after a loss earlier in the season in Bloomington.
“We wanted to win absolutely,” Michigan coach Mike Bottom said. “But even going into the meet my take was, ‘Look these two teams are really good right, they’re really good and if we don’t win it’s OK, but we need to get better, we need improvement, we need to fight all the way through.’ So we fought all the way through and we won, which is a bonus.”