Coming off of its 32nd Big Ten Championship, the No. 4 Michigan men’s swimming and diving team (5-0 Big Ten, 8-2 overall) is geared up for its appearance in the NCAA Championship starting tomorrow.
“I think we have a pretty good chance to meet our goal, which is basically placing in the top six,” Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek said. “If everything goes according to plan, being in the top six will be our realistic goal and expectation. The team looks healthy and they’re ready to go.”
Eleven swimmers and one diver will represent the Wolverines in Austin, Texas, at the championships.
On the list of Michigan swimmers and divers to look for are freshman sensation Peter Vanderkaay and junior phenomenon Dan Ketchum.
“Ketchum should be up there in the top of the 200 freestyle,” Urbanchek said. “Vanderkaay should also be up there in the 1650 freestyle and the 500 freestyle. Our 800-freestyle relay should also do well. Furthermore, our 4×100-freestyle relay and the 4×100-medley relay should capture a victory or two. So it looks good for us.”
The competition will not be easy for the Wolverines to conquer. According to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, Michigan lies behind No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 Auburn and No. 3 California. Stanford is the only one of the top three that Michigan has faced this season, and it lost 89.5-148.5.
“Basically there are two real good teams,” Urbanchek said. “It’s Auburn and Stanford. They’re going to duke it out for first and second place. For third place, there is about two or three teams fighting for that spot. Perhaps Texas, Florida and USC will be fighting for the third-place spot.”
Following the Wolverines in the rankings is also No. 6 Minnesota, which came in a close second to Michigan in the Big Ten Championship.
“Minnesota is not going to be ahead of us,” Urbanchek said. “I think they’re going to be very close to us. However, the ranking on paper is one thing, and the way they perform under pressure in the water is another. I prefer our performance over the paper rankings.”
As Michigan looks at a realistic finish to a captivating season, Urbanchek and others feel that the team is ready for the final showdown of the season.
“It looks good,” Urbanchek said. “The team is ready. Our strength will be distance freestyle, and our relays have improved significantly from last year. So we are anticipating being in the top-six.”