When junior Chris DeJong entered the water in the 200-yard
backstroke in Friday’s meet at Wisconsin, he wanted to post a
good time to start the season.

As he touched the wall 1:45.28 later, he not only achieved his
goal, he broke the Wisconsin pool record in the event by 0.60
seconds. The time wasn’t a personal best for DeJong, but it
still marked the fastest he’s ever started a season in the
event.

“This is the first time I’ve swam (the 200-yard
backstroke) this season, and I’m glad I got this time under
my belt,” DeJong said.

Many other members of the No. 9 Michigan men’s swimming
and diving team also posted better-than-expected times as the team
won its Big Ten opener against No. 16 Wisconsin, 142-93, and
improved its record to 2-0. The meet was the Wolverines’
first chance this season to swim in their regular events, after
swimming an off lineup against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 29.
Michigan won eight out of 11 races and both diving events to beat
the Badgers by a comfortable margin.

While Michigan coach Bob Bowman expected his team to win the
meet, the victory was much easier because each of his swimmers
“rose up to the level of competition.”

“The best thing (about the meet) was that we won all the
close races,” Bowman said. “We didn’t get touched
out all night, and that was very good.”

Olympic gold medalist Peter Vanderkaay also started his season
strong, winning both the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events with
times of 44.28 seconds and 1:38.38 seconds, respectively. Going
into the meet, Vanderkaay felt comfortable, despite the long drive
to Wisconsin.

“We prepared ourselves mentally,” Vanderkaay said.
“Our focus was on the meet, not the hassle of
traveling.”

Michigan captured the lead early, winning the first three events
of the meet. The 400-yard medley relay team of Nicholas Douville,
Michael Galindo, Andrew Hack and Andrew Albright placed first with
a time of 3:26.50 seconds. Seniors Brendan Neligan and Zayd Ma
finished one-two in the 1,000-yard freestyle with times of 9:22.66
and 9:30.34, respectively.

Wisconsin’s Josh Bonner placed first in both the one- and
three-meter diving events, but competed as a non-scorer, allowing
Michigan divers Jake Boehm and Jon Donadee to notch points for
first and second place in both events, respectively.

After the Wolverines swept the Badgers in the 200-yard butterfly
and the 500-yard freestyle — finishing first, second and
third — it was clear Michigan would win.

Bowman decided to race exhibition in the last two events —
the 200-yard breaststroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“Once you reach 122 points, you know you’ve won the
meet,” Bowman said.

By racing exhibition, the swimmers still post their times but
don’t score any points. The tactic was used to show good
sportsmanship by not running up the score on a decided victory.

Michigan’s win at Wisconsin showed Bowman that his team is
in the right position for a productive season. The meet also
provided swimmers a chance to focus on their best events.

“Our goal is to improve individually,” Bowman said.
“And when we do that, the team’s performance will take
care of itself.”

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