Before she jumped into the pool for the first time as a Wolverine this season, Melissa Jaeger had already demonstrated an incredible amount of dedication to the team – 47 credit hours worth. As a transfer from Oakland University, Jaeger was required to complete those hours in a single academic year between September 2006 and August 2007 to be eligible.
Redshirted for the 2006-07 season, the fifth-year senior spent meets sitting poolside waiting for her chance to compete.
“She wanted to come to Michigan so badly and gave up a lot to do it,” Michigan coach Jim Richardson said. “There have not been very many athletes at Michigan that have had to have done that in order to be eligible.”
Jaeger earned a slew of accolades during her three years at Oakland. An Honorable Mention All-American in 2006, Jaeger was also named the Mid-Continent Conference Swimmer of the Year and received multiple Mid-Continent Conference Swimmer of the Week honors. She was even named team captain as a junior.
But despite Jaeger’s success at Oakland becoming a Wolverine was a natural decision for the Ann Arbor native, who had always dreamed of swimming with the Block ‘M’ across her chest.
“I actually thought about transferring after my freshman year, but loyalty and friendships with a few folks were pretty strong,” Jaeger said.
After her junior year, Jaeger swam with the Michigan team over the summer and felt an instant connection with the Wolverines.
Jaeger knew that swimming for Michigan would allow her to compete at the highest level with some of the fastest, brightest swimmers in the country.
“I got along with them so well,” Jaeger said. “They wanted to better themselves in swimming and they were focused on their academics. It was a perfect fit for me.”
Jaeger has already made a name for herself in the Big Ten. In just the fourth meet of the season, she smashed conference and Michigan records in the 200-yard breaststroke by more than a second. Her dazzling efforts were rewarded with Big Ten Swimmer of the Week honors for the week of Nov. 20.
In her short time in the Michigan pool, Jaeger has found a place among No. 13 Michigan’s powerful arsenal of swimmers and divers. Her speed and strong work ethic in breaststroke and butterfly will play a key role for the Wolverines as their season restarts at the Notre Dame Invitational this weekend after a 40-day break from competition.
“She’s just a joy to have on the team, Richardson said. “It’s like she’s been here all along.”