While fighting the H1N1 flu early last December, junior swimmer Tyler Clary pushed himself to a third-place finish at the U.S. Short Course National Championships in one of his best events — the 400-yard individual medley.

The inspired performance left his coaches wondering what he was capable of while healthy.

Swimming again less than two weeks later, they got their answer when Clary broke the American record in the same event.

Team USA swept the top three places in the event. Clary won with a time of 4:02.02, besting the old record held by Olympian Ryan Lochte by nearly half a second.

“Tyler does an incredible job representing Michigan around the world, and he brings a lot of honor to our team,” senior swimmer Alon Mandel said.

Michigan alum Alex Vanderkaay finished third in the event (4:05.22).

Clary was selected to represent the U.S. after his strong performances in international meets. Team USA competed against the E-stars, an all-star team of European swimmers from Italy, Germany and Great Britain. The bi-annual meet, called the Duel in the Pool, was held in Manchester, England Dec. 18-19. The Americans cruised to an easy win with a final score of 185-78.

After his victory across the pond, Clary and his Wolverine teammates on the men’s swimming and diving team flew to Key Largo, Fla., where they spent most of their break training in a warmer climate.

The team’s annual training trip is a chance for the team to improve technique and build endurance and camaraderie.

“We worked really hard but did other things, like watching a firework show to start the New Year from boats,” Mandel said. “Training is the most important part, but it’s also about spending time together, working on relationships and building confidence in each other.”

Orange Bowl Classic: On Jan. 2, the team swam in the Orange Bowl Classic. No. 7 Michigan won all 12 events on its way to its second team victory in the annual meet in as many tries.

Senior co-captains Chris Brady and André Schultz both won their two individual events. Schultz was first in the 100-meter backstroke and breaststroke events, and Brady won the 50-meter freestyle and butterfly and was a member of the winning team in the 200-meter freestyle relay.

Brady’s performance also earned him his first Big Ten Swimmer of the Week honor this week, making him the fourth Wolverine to win the award this season.

The Wolverines’ domination wasn’t exactly a surprise. Their weak competition included Duke, George Mason and Minnesota State. But considering the opponents and the tough training the team went through during the trip, victory wasn’t the team’s top objective.

“The other teams were not good,” Mandel said. “But like any other meet, we always compete with ourselves first and just try to do our best as individuals and as a team. We, of course, want to swim fast and win because we are athletes, but that meet was just about having fun.”

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