On Friday night, Canham Natatorium was filled with excitement. After all, it was the season’s final meet and a rivalry competition, the No. 6 Michigan men’s swimming and diving team (5-1 Big Ten, 8-1 overall) faced in-state-rival, Michigan State (0-3, 3-6).
The Wolverines not only won, but they dominated the Spartans, taking first place in every single event, in a 212-64 rout. The win helped them improve their long history of winning against the Spartans in dual meets. Michigan has won the past 40.
Over a dozen different Michigan athletes won events in the meet, one of whom was senior Paul Powers, who won the 50-yard backstroke.
Powers is one of seven seniors on the team, all of whom swam at home for the last time on Friday.
“I think we had a lot of great swims … it’s kinda hard to be really happy when it’s my last meet at home,” Powers said. “Man I came in here like two hours before everyone else trying to, like, make sure I was prepared … I was so nervous and anxious coming into this meet.”
While Powers says he won’t miss early-morning practices, what he’ll miss the most is “spending every practice with my boys.”
“I get a little emotional when I say goodbye to them,” said coach Mike Bottom.
As for the other swimmers, sophomore Charlie Swanson won the 400-yard IM with a time of 3:49.86. Swanson won that same event during the Big Ten Championships last year. Freshman Ricardo Vargas, senior Ryan Sebastian and junior Stephen Holmquist came in second, third and fourth, respectively.
The divers also had an impressive night, taking the top four spots place in the 1-meter and the 3-meter dives. Freshman Ross Todd won the 3-meter dive with a score of 382.95, while sophomore Jake Herremans took first in the 1-meter dive with a score of 359.70.
As the regular season comes to a close, the Wolverines are looking ahead to the Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis near the end of February.
“It’s gonna be down to the wire, every single race matters, every single touch. Beating somebody out by .01 might mean difference in the meet,” Powers said about the Big Ten Championship. “Especially for these senior guys who this is their last Big Tens, they are going to give it all they have. They would rather die than lose this.”
While it may not be a matter of life and death, a dominant win over its rival will give Michigan momentum as it looks to end its season on a high note.