The result never really seemed in doubt.
With 150 yards to go, Charlie Swanson took control of the race. Swanson coasted through the freestyle portion of the 400-yard individual medley (IM), touching the wall first ahead of his two teammates Ricardo Vargas and Tommy Cope.
The trio’s 1-2-3 finish helped the Michigan men’s swimming and diving team achieve a second overall finish — with Indiana finishing first — at the Big Ten Championships over the weekend.
“Charlie was right off of his best time,” said Michigan coach Mike Bottom. “But when you’re at that level, sometimes it doesn’t take your best time to win. He’s one of the best in the country.”
From the start of the meet, the Wolverines kept pace with the eventual champion Hoosiers. Michigan opened the meet on Wednesday with a win in the 200-yard medley relay thanks to strong performances from redshirt sophomore Alex King, freshman Will Chan, junior Miles Smachlo and sophomore Luiz Gustavo Borges. They finished with a time of 1:22.76, a Big Ten Championship record and the third-fastest time in the country this season.
Michigan’s foursome of juniors Swanson, Cope and Felix Auböck and freshman Patrick Callan went on to finish second in the 800-yard freestyle relay.
At the end of day one, the Wolverines were tied on 120 points with Indiana.
Michigan would fall behind the Hoosiers over the course of the second day, but the team still secured some impressive finishes. Auböck won his third consecutive 500-yard freestyle at the Big Ten Championship. The final included four other Wolverines, with Vargas and Callan finishing second and third respectively.
Michigan’s depth was on display throughout the meet. Multiple swimmers and divers registered points on Thursday afternoon, a trend that eventually resulted in all 26 members of the team scoring points by the end of the weekend.
“Having all 26 guys scoring points for us was a big thing,” Bottom said. “21 of our guys did at least one career best in the last week so really excited about that. We were hitting on all cylinders and scoring a lot of points for Michigan.”
Despite trailing Indiana, the Wolverines separated themselves from the rest of the field on Friday. Swanson’s victory in the 400-yard IM was just the start. Smachlo added to his medal count with a first-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly, setting the Michigan record for the event.
Five Wolverines placed in the top-ten of the 200-yard freestyle — with Auböck finishing third and Callan finishing fifth.
Michigan also performed well from the diving board. Sophomore Ross Todd placed seventh in the three-meter springboard. And yet, the best was yet to come.
On Saturday, Todd finished second on the platform, losing to Purdue’s Brandon Loschiavo. By the end of the meet, the Wolverines’ four divers had scored in all three events.
“I don’t know if that’s ever happened at Michigan,” Bottom said. “Having all four of our divers score in all of the events gave Ross Todd a very good opportunity to stand on a platform. Having a team around you surely helps in that situation and he was great. The last dive he had to hit it and he crushed it. A world-class diver beat him by .2, so that was a lot of pressure and he rose up to the pressure.”
Back in the pool, Auböck closed out his stellar meet with a dominant win in the 1,650-yard freestyle — his third straight. Vargas finished third in the same event, while sophomore Will Roberts came in third.
A strong ending punctuated Michigan’s second-place finish, setting them up nicely for the NCAA Tournament in two weeks. Before then though, a number of Wolverines will have the opportunity to improve on their times in hopes of qualifying for the Tournament at the Michigan Last Chance Meet on Tuesday.
“We’re looking at some of the results from around the country and we might have to swim some of these guys in our meet on Tuesday, which is pretty exciting,” Bottom said. “We get another opportunity to compete.”