It’s better to give than to receive. That was the motto for the Michigan men’s swimming and diving team during its trip to Waimea, Hawaii over winter break. When they weren’t training or competing, the Wolverines spent their free time teaching the state’s young swimmers.
On Dec. 28, Michigan swam against Hawaii Prep Academy, securing the victory over the high school with an overall score of 147-67.
“This was just a practice meet, which came on a Saturday after a whole week of double workouts,” coach Jon Urbanchek said. “Then we worked out prior to the meet, so the team was really tired. The meet wasn’t very serious. It was just a practice meet mainly to meet the NCAA requirements, which requires a training trip.”
In addition to the victory, Michigan also set four new pool records.
Ryan Earhardt, Jeff Hopwood, Davis Tarwater and Dan Ketchum won the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:36.4. Tarwater and Ketchum teamed with Garrett Mangieri and Mike Porth to earn a record in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:27.04.
Hopwood grabbed his second record of the day by winning the 100-yard breaststroke in 58.01. Mangieri, Ketchum, Peter Vanderkaay and Tony Kurth, who clocked a 3:13:205 in the 400-yard freestyle relay, captured the record.
Although the Michigan swimmers had to compete while in Hawaii, they took advantage of their stay on the beautiful island and held free clinics and camps for aspiring swimmers.
“Probably the best thing that came out of the meet is the camps that we held for the prep schools. It was good for the prep school kids as youngsters to see the No. 1 team in the country,” Urbanchek said. “We were allowed to share our expertise and help these kids out there. That was probably the most memorable thing for these youngsters, to see the Michigan swimmers and have one-on-one contact with them.”
But the high school students weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the clinics.
The Wolverines “encountered many new friendships,” Urbanchek said. “They were actually invited to birthday parties and other events like surfing during the week. The only bad thing was that we had limited time there because of all our training.”
Many other benefits came out of Michigan’s trip to Hawaii. While the coaches emphasized the training component of the trip, they also wanted the swimmers to bond together into a cohesive team.
“The one benefit we get from training camp is not the amount of training we get, but the fact that we stay in a dormitory style,” Urbanchek said. “It’s the best way to bond. It’s the interaction without all the classes. What we do out of the water is far more important than what we do in the water in building a team.”
Michigan did have one close call during the trip – one of its top freshman backstrokers, Chris DeJong, almost blew out his knee during a good-natured game of beach volleyball.
But the Wolverines still feel ready for their upcoming meet against one of the top teams in the nation. Michigan will travel to Stanford to face the third-ranked Cardinal Friday.
“I think this whole trip here is kind of leading up to the competition with two solid weeks of training,” Urbanchek said. “We were able to create a cohesive team environment, which will help us to prepare for Stanford.”