Before Vanessa Krause dove into the pool at Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, the sophomore made sure to take a sharp look at everything around her: the locks, the pads, even the scarlet and gray-clad stands.
It’s important for Krause and the No. 2 Michigan women’s swim team to get familiar with this setting. Its wins over Ohio State (176-124), Virginia Tech (224-76) and Rutgers (233-67) were just one of three potential meets in the Buckeyes’ home pool.
Those other two meets? None other than the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Championships.
“It was pretty interesting to see the pool and the nice facility that they have,” Krause said. “Unfortunately, it was all red instead of maize and blue, but it was a really good experience with the team. … It was a good start to the season, swimming in their pool, checking out everything.”
That extra look around seemed to benefit Krause in her first meet there this season too, as she came out as one of three double winners on the team along with senior Clara Smiddy and junior Rose Bi. Krause noted that it was important to change her energy strategy to win the 100 and 200-yard butterfly.
“They all told me ‘You really like to back-half your races and you really like to sit on everyone until the very end,’ ” Krause said. “I guess that’s when they say I like to come back and finish.
“Today, we really tried to focus on taking it out in the beginning and not being afraid of dying down at the end. That’s something that I’ve really struggled with, but also something I’ve really pushed myself to be better at.”
While the Wolverines were adjusting to the hostile Ohio State environment, they also became familiar with the prospect of swimming without the constant presence of star junior Siobhan Haughey.
Although Haughey returned to action after missing last week’s dual meet against Indiana, she only swam the 200-yard freestyle. Michigan coach Mike Bottom was pleased with the team’s performance in her quasi-absence, but was noncommittal to stating that Haughey would be fully available for the Big Ten Championships and the NCAAs.
“I hope so,” Bottom said. “I hope so.”
Contrary to the sport of swimming itself, the road to success is not always straightforward. Injuries like Haughey’s are almost inevitable. The team spent three months without swimming at home. Time will tell what other twists and turns will be thrown the Wolverines’ way, but in the moment, they’re staying confident.
“It definitely has boosted my confidence,” Krause said. “Knowing where I’m going to swim and knowing what the pool is like, helps me initialize and look forward to better things in the future hopefully. I’ll know what the pool looks like, where we are sitting for Big Tens, how long it’ll take us to get there from the hotel. It’s just really good mentally for me to know those things.”
If they can hold on to the familiar, as Krause started to do this weekend, anything is possible.