It’s not often that swimmers from Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota’s powerhouse swimming and diving programs are all on the same team. But this weekend at the inaugural Big Ten/ACC Swimming and Diving Challenge, that’s exactly what happened.
Twelve Michigan swimmers and divers traveled to West Lafayette, Ind., this weekend to help the Big Ten to a win over the Atlantic Coast Conference. Big Ten and ACC schools each sent athletes to form teams for their respective conference, and Michigan coach Mike Bottom took the helm for the Big Ten women’s team in the short-course dual meet.
With individual victories from Michigan swimmers — freshman Maggie MacNeil in the women’s 50-yard freestyle, sophomore Ricardo Vargas in the men’s 1,000-yard freestyle and senior Siobhan Haughey in the women’s 200-yard freestyle, along with a third-place finish from Michigan’s freshman platform diver Ross Todd — the Big Ten beat the ACC by a combined score of 353-276.
After coming in second to Mallory Comerford of Louisville in the women’s 200-yard freestyle in the NCAA Championships in March, Haughey found redemption this weekend, beating Comerford with a time of 1:42.63 – the fastest in in the country this season.
Haughey wasn’t the only Wolverine breaking records this weekend as MacNeil lowered her school record in the women’s 100-yard butterfly with a time of 50.09. She also came within a tenth of a second of the school record in the women’s 50-yard butterfly, clocking in at 22:08.
The meet gave No. 6 Michigan confidence going forward in the relay events. In both the women’s 400-yard and 800-yard freestyle relays, three of the four swimmers on the Big Ten team were Wolverines. MacNeil and Haughey were part of a winning Big Ten team in the women’s 400-yard medley relay, and MacNeil and fellow Wolverine Catie DeLoof also helped the Big Ten to a win in the women’s 200-yard medley relay.
Though this win for the Big Ten will not count towards Michigan’s record, the friendly competition also gave the Wolverines a better look at some of the competition they will face from other Big Ten schools later in the season, including No. 2 Indiana, No. 10 Ohio State and Michigan State. They also got a chance to see ranked ACC opponents that they will likely face in the NCAA championships in March, including No. 18 Notre Dame and No. 13 Louisville.
The experience and confidence the Wolverines gained this weekend will serve them well at the UGA Invitational this Thursday through Saturday, where they will face ranked opponents from other Power Five conferences, including No. 9 Georgia and No. 16 Virginia, which also sent swimmers to the West Lafayette for the meet this weekend.