Michigan women’s swimming and diving coach Jim Richardson has been with the Wolverines for 24 years.
But before Friday’s 167-126 win against Toledo, he wasn’t too reluctant to take advice from a newcomer to Ann Arbor.
Wolverine first-year men’s coach Mike Bottom suggested that junior Margaret Kelly shift her focus from her hips to her shoulders, which would help her transition later in races and pick up the tempo as others faded.
“Usually, improvement in sports doesn’t really happen overnight,” Richardson said. “It’s a byproduct of doing the right things for a long period of time.”
But in her first meet after changing her technique, Kelly saw immediately results setting three pool records and propelling the Wolverines (1-3) to their first win of the season.
Kelly’s new milestones were the biggest accomplishments in the Wolverine triumph, but freshmen Caitlin Dauw and Amanda Lohman also had excellent meets, winning two individual events apiece. Dauw’s two wins, in the 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly events, were the first of her career.
In her first event, the 200-yard freestyle, Kelly finished nearly two seconds ahead of her nearest competitor, Toledo sophomore Laura Heckroth. Her time of 1:50.07 came within a tenth of a second of the pool record, and Richardson said he knew after the race that Kelly would have an impressive meet.
“You could see it right from the start,” Richardson said. “She was playing around with making changes in her stroke that might make her even faster. It worked here tonight.”
Then came Kelly’s pool-record victory in the 500-yard freestyle (4:55:44) in an event outside of her specialty. A few events later, Kelly set a pool record in the 200-yard individual medley (2:02:88).
In the very next event, the last of the night, the Wolverines leaned on Kelly as the anchor in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The Wolverines relay team broke another pool record (1:34:86).
Even Richardson, with 24 seasons at the helm, said the notion of one swimmer setting three new record times in one meet was new to him.
“Any time you can get a pool record, that’s saying something,” Richardson said. “I don’t recall ever seeing someone break that many pool records.”