Over the past two years, the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team has made a name for itself down in Athens, Ga.
For the second year in a row, the second-ranked Wolverines took their midseason meet by storm and made a record-breaking title run at the annual UGA Fall Invitational, coming away with a winning 944 points. Michigan led each of the three days and saw strong performances from both the swimmers and divers. The host team, the University of Georgia, finished in second place with 835 points.
“At this point in the season, when we know we have a lot of great meets coming up in the second half where we can add to these performances, it’s a great start,” said Michigan coach Mike Bottom.
Many swimmers had standout performances. Senior Siobhán Haughey broke her previously-held school record in the 100-yard freestyle and won the 200-yard freestyle, while freshman Maggie MacNeil won the 100-yard backstroke and became just the fourth woman in NCAA history to break 50 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly.
“Those results speak for themselves,” Bottom said. “It’s pretty apparent by now that they are some of the best swimmers in the country.”
Sophomore Sierra Schmidt and senior Yirong Bi, meanwhile, came in first and second place in the long-distance, 1,650-yard freestyle event, respectively. Junior Miranda Tucker and senior Jamie Yeung swept both the 100-yard and 200-yard breastroke events.
Bottom also noted the improvements made by junior Chloe Hicks, who transferred this year from Virginia Tech and won the 200-yard backstroke.
“As a transfer, we were really happy to see Hicks with such an exceptional performance,” Bottom said. “She’s closing in on her best time ever.”
Similarly strong performances appeared accross the board on the diving side. Sophomore Nikki Canale led the team in third place overall with 235.65 points in total.
“Over the last three days, the divers were all very powerful, with everyone making an A or B final,” said diving coach Mike Hilde. “For the first time in a long time for me and the team we have a group of divers –– a team of divers –– instead of just an individual.”
The euphoria that came from dominating across so many different events at UGA could easily give way to overconfidence, but no one is taking anything for granted. Despite the success this weekend, Bottom and Hilde both still see room for improvement.
“UGA was the first time this year we had a three day meet,” Hilde said. “So learning how to continue to excel at a high level toward the end of the meet, when you’re tired and exhausted and sore is going to be big for us looking ahead.”
“Of course have to continue to get in better shape and get stronger,” Bottom added. “But we really need to focus on details. There were some things that we could see with all the video replay we had, and there’s still a lot of details that we need to get down before the Big Ten championships.”