When the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team
competes against Northwestern tonight, the pivotal issue will be
which team has recovered the best after one of the season’s
most intense training weeks.

Janna Hutz
Junior Courtney Larson and the rest of the Michigan swimming and diving team take on Northwestern tonight. The swimmers have implemented a new training program this season. (TONY DING/Daily)

“It’s all about who can adapt to their
training,” coach Jim Richardson said. “Everyone’s
hurting, but when it’s race time, we need to step it
up.”

With just four weeks until the Big Ten Championships, both teams
have been through an unbelievable amount of dry-land and swim
practices.

“I’ve never worked this hard before,” senior
captain Sara Johnson said. “But it definitely pays off in the
water. All of us can see differences in our swimming.”

This season Richardson has implemented a new training program
that is dedicated to upper- and lower-body strengthening and
includes more aerobic exercise than the team is accustomed to. The
Wolverines swim twice a day and spend time in the weight room
before afternoon practices.

It has left many of the swimmers sore, but the new regimen has
increased everyone’s power and speed.

“Some of the girls have swum faster than they ever
have,” Richardson said. “This new program has done
wonders for our team.”

Richardson’s main goal isn’t winning the last two
meets before the Big Ten Championships, but being sure his swimmers
are working as hard as they can to achieve faster times.

“My primary focus is on being prepared and swimming
well,” Richardson said. “We have two girls that have
already qualified for NCAA championships (Anne Weilbacher and Susan
Gilliam), but we’re hoping that by the Big Ten championships
we’ll have some others who have made their time
cuts.”

Going into the meet against Northwestern the Wolverines are 6-1
overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten. Although Richardson said he is not
overly worried about the competition tonight, he knows that his
team can’t take the conference meet lightly.

“There’s not a single Big Ten team that you can say,
‘Oh well, they don’t have good swimmers,’ ”
Richardson said. “Every squad has between four and six girls
that can win a meet for their team.”

The Wildcats, who beat Michigan State last weekend 136-105, will
look to put a blemish on the Wolverines’ perfect conference
record with senior leadership from breaststroker Katie Simmons and
distance freestyler Erica Rose.

“I feel confident that we are sharpening up as a team and
close to being prepared for Big Ten championships,”
Northwestern coach Jimmy Tierney said. “But I know from the
past, Michigan has always had a good team, and there’s always
tough competition when we come into Ann Arbor.”

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