Whether Indiana wants to admit it or not, it has a rival in Michigan.

Since the 2015-2016 season, the Michigan men’s swimming and diving team has traded first and second place finishes with the Hoosiers at the Big Ten Championships. Of the 17 swimmers and divers named to the 2019 All-Big Ten First Team, 15 came from the two programs. 

“I really like our rivalry with them, if they consider it a rivalry with us,” senior Tommy Cope said.

One may attribute Indiana’s recent dominance over Michigan to Cope’s comment. 

The Hoosiers have notched back-to-back Big Ten championships and third-place finishes at the NCAA Championships in the past two seasons. Back in November, Indiana handed the Wolverines their first loss of the season at a dual meet in Bloomington.

However, on Saturday, No. 3 Michigan (4-1 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) redeemed itself by upending the fifth-ranked Hoosiers (6-3, 2-1) recent reign of dominance and giving them their first Big Ten dual-meet loss in four years, resolidifying the rivalry. 

“It’s really fun to go race against top-notch people,” Cope said. That’s how I know if I am doing well in the sport or not. It’s good to race against similar people. Iron sharpens iron.”

Saturday’s meet in Ann Arbor emulated the two schools tense, back-and-forth competition that has persisted over the years. In a meet where every dive and every race seemed to matter, both sides battled and exchanged first place finishes throughout the day. 

Impressive individual performances by Cope and junior Ricardo Vargas led the way for the Wolverines.

Cope took first place in both the 100 and 200-yard breastroke (1:56.34, 1:58.97), with senior Charlie Swanson and sophomore Will Chan finishing behind him in respective events. A crucial first place finish by Cope in the 200-yard individual medley (1:45.61) helped Michigan pull away in the latter half of the meet.

Capturing the sentiment of the rivalry, Cope splashed the water around and pumped his fist following his victory in the individual medley to mimic Indiana swimmers ostentatious celebrations in previous races.

Vargas, meanwhile, placed first in the 500 and 1,000-yard freestyle with times of 4:21.85 and 9:01.82, with sophomore Patrick Callan and senior Felix Auböck placing second and third behind Vargas in the 500.

Even when Indiana took first place in events, Michigan found ways to garner points in close races to secure second, third and fourth places. 

In the 200-yard butterfly, senior Miles Smachlo and Vargas finished second and third behind the Hoosiers Brendan Burns to pick up seven points for their side. Smachlo avenged himself to edge out Burns in the 100-yard butterfly with an impressive finish of 46.84.

In the diving well, although Indiana’s Mory Gould finished first place in the 1-meter and 3-meter events, junior Ross Todd, senior Jake Herremans and junior Chris Canning placed behind him in both events. The trio netted 18 points to cancel out the 18 points Gould won for his team.

“Everyone was up and scoring,” Michigan coach Mike Bottom said. “When (Indiana) won an event, we were right behind them with two or three people. We took away their superstars with our team. And that’s how you win these meets.”

Building off mounting mid-season momentum, the Wolverines were able to rise to the challenge and prove why they have been right behind the Hoosiers in Big Ten rankings recently. 


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