Swimmers step above the pool, their goggles staring at the water, hands gripping the block. A horn blasts and two swimmers take off neck-and-neck — a maize and a scarlet cap bob above the water in a competitive matchup. Ohio State has arrived in Ann Arbor.
In a long-time rivalry meet, the No. 2 Michigan women’s swim & dive team (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) beat No. 15 Ohio State (5-4, 1-1 Big Ten), 196-104, Saturday to extend their undefeated record with just one regular season meet remaining before the Big Ten Championships, which the team has won the past three years.
To start the meet, the Wolverines’ “A” team captured a win over Ohio State’s “A” team in the 200-yard medley. Despite the momentum, Michigan dropped its second race, the 1,000 yard freestyle, by nearly eight seconds.
But the lag didn’t last long. Shooting off the block in the 200-yard freestyle, senior Siobhan Haughey took an immediate lead, ultimately finishing the eight-lap race at least three full seconds, or two body lengths, ahead of her opponents. Haughey’s fast start highlighted her night at large. The senior won all three races she swam: the 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard IM.
Haughey’s wins highlighted a general dominance over Ohio State’s formidable lineup despite losses in both the one and three-meter dives. With wins delivered by a wide array of swimmers — junior Jackie Deloof, redshirt junior Miranda Tucker, junior Vanessa Krause, freshman Maggie MacNeil, senior Jamie Yeung and senior Yirong “Rose” Bi — in events ranging in distance and stroke, the Wolverines took a comfortable lead early on. Multiple second-place finishes also secured the win.
“We beat Indiana two days ago and just beat Ohio State, so I think it really gave the team a lot of confidence going into (Big Ten Championships),” Haughey said. “I had a lot of events today, but I told myself that this meet was for the team.”
Many swimmers — including Haughey — swam in multiple events, with Haughey, MacNeil and Deloof each winning at least two events. For MacNeil specifically, the wins will be important going forward in her first season of Division I swimming.
“Maggie is one of our freshmen who are leading the way for the other freshmen,” said Michigan coach Mike Bottom. “She’s really taking off, and we expect to see that out of a lot of our freshmen.”
Strong performances from both younger and experienced swimmers, such as MacNeil’s and Haughey’s Saturday, will be pivotal going forward for the Wolverines, who are looking to continue their unblemished win-streak in the postseason.