Fractions of seconds occasionally form the margin of victory in swimming races. This is deceptive, however, because races are won and lost in the stretch, not just the final seconds.
The No. 22 Michigan women’s swimming and diving team demonstrated this through neck-and-neck competition against No. 8 Indiana – edging away with a 151.5-148.5 victory Saturday afternoon at Canham Natatorium.
In a meet comprising 16 events, the Wolverines’ 3-point victory came down to the three-meter diving competition. Michigan senior Amanda Lohman’s first-place finish in the event provided the final separation between the two teams, but Michigan coach Jim Richardson stressed that contributions from the entire team were key all afternoon.
“Every bang-bang touch is big,” he said. “You can’t go back to any one event and say, ‘Well, that was the one.’ ”
Critical victories came early and often for the Wolverines, with junior Adrienne Bicek coming back from a large deficit to claim the top spot in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Bicek extra effort allowed her to pull off the comeback win.
“Just having that adrenaline to go out and race for Michigan,” Bicek said. “Just taking that opportunity to go for it and race to the wall. I kind of started out seeing them ahead, and then towards the end taking that and pushing to the end.”
Richardson added: “The 1,000 was an amazing second 500 (yards). It was terrific. Her 500 race was a terrific race. And that was bang-bang at the end … She was big today.”
Other victories included the 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard butterfly, with the Wolverines securing the top three spots in both events. Michigan was able to capitalize in these events, giving them the edge in the final result.
“There were events that could have gone this way, could have gone that way,” Richardson said. “Very, very close, as the score indicates.”
After the conclusion of the swimming portion, there wasn’t a clear winner, so the team’s victory rested upon the divers’ performance. Most swimmers had finished their post-meet laps and were resting in the locker room by the time the final results were tallied. A few scattered cheers followed, but beyond that there was little fanfare after the Wolverines’ victory was secured.
“At the end of the day, it’s how well you perform at the conference championships, which are the stepping stone, generally speaking, to the NCAA Championships,” Richardson said. “So everything we do is really geared towards our preparation for the Big Ten Championships.”
The team’s victory over Indiana is another one of those moments leading up to the eventual goal – preparing for the Big Ten Championships.