As the dual meet season wraps up for the men”s swimming and diving team, Michigan has one final chance to tune up before heading to the Big Ten Championships later this month. Michigan State visits Canham Natatorium this weekend, but Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek doesn”t expect the competition to serve much more than a trial run for the Wolverines.

“Michigan State will not be a big factor as far as the outcome of the competition goes,” Urbanchek said. “The meet is the last chance for people to swim an event as they are preparing for the Big Tens. This is kind of like a final rehearsal before the curtain goes up.”

For Michigan”s swimmers, the season is divided into three major parts. The swimmers spend the early weeks of the season conditioning and training hard, then move into the dual meet season where they can test the results of their training against other swimmers. Finally, after the dual meets are over, the swimmers begin to taper and prepare for the most important meets of the season the Big Ten and NCAA Championships.

“We taper off the yards you do over the week,” Urbanchek said, explaining the swimmers” workouts over the last three weeks of the season. “We work on practicing at higher intensities, so it”s more of a race-pace type of training.”

The team practices this way, swimming shorter but more intense yardage, in order to rehearse the speeds at which they will compete. Along with the physical preparation, there is also a need for mental preparation as well.

“You”ve got the psychological preparation for the meet, like visualization and working out all the little details about the race. The starts, turns and finishes, all those little things add up,” Urbanchek said.

As the season comes to a close, Michigan practices become more focused on individualized workouts and fine tuning the aspects of each particular race. Practices can be like “a 20-ring circus,” according to Urbanchek, because of the difference in focus from swimmer to swimmer.

“It”s very individualized, some people need more rest than others, and we try to be a lot more specific to the individual”s needs during these last three weeks,” he said.

The dual meet against Michigan State marks the official beginning of the final stage of Michigan”s season. Even if the Spartans don”t pose much of a challenge, this meet is the last chance for Michigan to work out any kinks in its game plan before racing in a competition where it really counts: The Big Ten Championships.

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