- Patrick Barron/Daily
BY BRANDON HANDELSMAN
Daily Sports Writer
Published March 23, 2014
The Michigan women’s swimming team was undaunted by the biggest stage of its season.
Under the bright lights of the NCAA Championship, the Wolverines not only proved that they deserved to be at the meet but also recorded impressive, All-America caliber performances throughout the week.
Michigan’s strong individual swimming secured six such honors at the championships, breaking two school records in the process.
But as a team, Michigan tallied 23 points for a 30th-place finish after three days of swimming. Georgia won the team title by an overwhelming margin, scoring 498 points. Sending just 10 swimmers, as opposed to the Bulldogs 17, the Wolverines weren’t expected to jockey for the team title. Still, Michigan (3-4 Big Ten, 6-5 overall) gained valuable experience for the following year and walked away feeling proud of their progress this season.
“I think the team did great,” said sophomore Marni Oldershaw. “We scored something like 14 more points than we did last year and we moved up six spots. There’s just been so much improvement over the past year. I mean two years ago, we only sent two individuals to the NCAA meet. This year, we sent 10. ”
Oldershaw received All-America status for her seventh-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley on the first day of competition. She touched in 1:56.88, setting a personal best and nearly breaking former Michigan All-American Margaret Kelly’s school record of 1:55.41.
“Getting to swim in that final was absolutely amazing,” Oldershaw said. “It was kind of all a blur, but I actually do remember looking up at the board after the prelim and seeing my time. I was absolutely shocked, because I didn’t think I was capable of doing that. It’s an incredible feeling. It’s something you don’t get to experience often.”
Oldershaw’s race set the tone for the rest of the day as the 200-yard freestyle relay team put up the fifth-fastest time in school history. Sophomore Zoe Mattingly, freshman Julia Fiks Salem, sophomore Ali DeLoof and freshman Madeline Frost finished in 1:37.38. The relay team earned All-America honorable mention for its 12th-place finish in the medley finals on the following day, touching at 1:37.49.
Additionally, DeLoof claimed seventh in the final of the 100-yard backstroke on the second day of competition at the NCAA Championships. She touched at 52.66 after setting a school record in the prelims at 52.15, earning an individual All-American honorable mention for her showing.
The third and final day of the meet didn’t prove as fruitful as the first two, with the 400-yard freestyle relay team failing to qualify for the final and consequently not adding to Michigan’s team point total. Despite recording a season-best time of 3:17.03, the Wolverines just missed the cut, placing 17th overall. The relay featured Mattingly, Deloof, Fiks Salem and senior captain Courtney Beidler. The race was Beidler’s last as a Wolverine.
Senior captain Angela Chokran capped off her career as well, finishing 38th in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:11.88. Beidler and Oldershaw also raced in the 200-yard butterfly, finishing 36th (1:58.43) and 47th (1:59.43), respectively. Junior Carey Chen placed 25th in platform diving.
Oldershaw was nothing but happy with how the team swam.
“It’s the biggest college meet,” Oldershaw said. “It’s really exciting. All the best swimmers are there, the best of the best. It was really fun to see where our team is at compared to everyone we can only read about, who we can’t race all the time. It was great to see how close we are to them and that we are doing all the right things.”
The Wolverines impressive performance in the NCAA Championships bodes well for next year, as they have newfound confidence going into spring training that they can compete with the best swimmers in the country.
Added Oldershaw: “Everyone’s just really excited to keep this improvement going. We’re excited where we can get in the future.”