Ever since the moment freshman Tyler Clary jumped into the pool in his first collegiate meet, he’s been a winner.

On Oct. 12, Clary raced his way to victory in the 200-yard backstroke, 200-individual medley and 1,000-yard freestyle in a dual meet against Eastern Michigan.

“When you’re able to win three events in your first meet as a freshman, that’s a good thing,” Michigan coach Bob Bowman said.

Clary entered Michigan as a highly touted swimmer from Riverside, Calif. In high school, Clary had to drive an hour each way six days a week to swim for the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team.

Although he competed in an elite swimming program, Clary still stood out as a rare talent.

“Back at home, there weren’t really a lot of people I could race,” Clary said. “But here, I’m often struggling to keep up.”

His workout regimen has been intensified since coming to Michigan. For the Wolverines, he works out six days a week at night and three days in the morning. He has also begun to lift weights, something he never did in high school.

“It’s not only the competition level here, it’s the expectation of the staff and the swimmers,” Bowman said. “Even though he’s one of the premiere swimmers in his class, he gets challenged on a daily basis.”

What initially drew Bowman to recruit Clary was Michigan’s lack of depth in backstroke. Soon he learned that Clary was more than just a great backstroker, but a perfect fit for the Wolverines.

“I really thought Tyler was the No. 1 recruit in his class,” Bowman said. “He is also someone that will compete on the international level. He really fit the bill of everything we’re looking for here at Michigan.”

Before coming to Ann Arbor, Clary represented the United States in the Pan American games this summer, winning the silver medal in the 200-meter backstroke. Clary is one of five Wolverine swimmers who represent the United States on the international team.

Clary has been an instant success at Michigan so far, leading the Wolverines in scoring this season.

“He’s definitely somebody who you think will be at the top of the NCAAs at some point,” Bowman said. “When that will be remains to be seen, but he’s as good as any swimmer in college swimming.”

As a freshman, Clary still has much room to improve. For one, he still has to clean up his breaststroke. Once he does, Bowman said Clary’s individual medley will be fantastic.

“He has great technique,” Bowman said. “He’s a super-tough competitor in workouts and practice, and he has definite goals that he knows he wants to achieve.”

Someday, Clary would like to win an NCAA individual title. For now, he’s focused on qualifying a few more automatic NCAA times. He has already qualified in the 400-meter IM, 200-meter backstroke and 400-yard freestyle relay.

He also wouldn’t mind earning NCAA freshman of the year honors.

“That would be really sweet,” Clary said.

Clary has just begun as a Wolverine, but, in his short career, he’s been nothing short of impressive.

“I’ve always been competitive since I was a little kid,” Clary said. “I just like beating people.”

So far, that’s all he’s been doing.

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