Now that the men’s swimming and diving season is underway,
Michigan coach Bob Bowman is hoping to do what no other active
coach in the Big Ten has done — win a Big Ten Championship
during his first year with the team. With 18 returning swimmers
— three of them Olympians — it would seem as if the
team is in the perfect position to win the tournament after coming
in second last year.

Although it’s only November, and the tournament is in late
February, winning this tournament is on all of the swimmers’
minds. However, Bowman isn’t ready to pencil his team’s
name on the trophy quite yet.

One of the main problems Bowman foresees for his team is its
lack of depth.

“Depth is by far our biggest problem, and getting enough
guys in the top five to score the points,” Bowman said.
“We have the top-flight guys to win events, but getting the
third-, fourth- and fifth-place guys will be the toughest
part.”

Many of the other swimmers also predict depth will become a
problem during the Big Ten Tournament. The tournament winner is
decided by points. While the Wolverines can easily win a large
majority of the events, they will still need to accumulate points
from lower-place finishes, and their problem will ultimately lie in
getting more swimmers to qualify for those final races.

“The depth is a little bit of a problem and that should
get a little bit better — and we hope to win Big Tens, which
is our goal right now,” senior Andrew Hurd said. “But
it will be hard to score those big numbers needed to win a Big
Ten.”

The team is hoping to tackle this problem early in the season,
by making sure it has each event accounted for so it will be fully
prepared when the tournament comes around.

“We have the distance events covered pretty well right
now, it’s just the shorter events, the shorter
freestyles,” said Hurd. “We’re going to have to
have to use some of our distance swimmers — which we have a
lot of — in some of our shorter events. (It’s)
something we normally wouldn’t do, and that’s just a
depth problem.”

Bowman is eager to improve the team’s start and turn times
— problems he noticed during a meet against Eastern Michigan
on Oct. 29. This could hurt the team as times usually come down to
fractions of a second.

While the team’s freshmen have shown great promise early
on, coach Bowman is looking for more long-term improvement from
them.

“I think that as we go, we are going to have to get
improvement from (the freshmen) or our Big Ten finishes
aren’t going to be what we want,” Bowman said.
“That’s what I’m looking for them to do. And move
up to where they can be big scorers in the Big Ten
(Championships).”

Contrary to what Bowman and many of his teammates believe,
senior captain Nicholas Douville feels that by the time the Big Ten
Championship rolls around, the freshmen will be more than prepared
and ready to step up and contribute to the team’s
success.

“The depth issue is just because our freshmen are not as
well known outside the state of Michigan,” Douville said.
“But what we have seen internally — the work ethic from
them and a lot of returning guys — I think people will step
up and make the depth issue not an issue at all.”

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