Winning a silver medal in the Pan American Games would seem to be good enough for most people, but for senior captain Dan Ketchum of the Michigan swimming and diving team, it is not close to enough.
For the captain of the reigning Big Ten Champions, swimming is more about team accomplishments than individual accolades.
“I really want to win the 800 free relay at the NCAA Championships, because all three years here, we’ve gotten third place,” Ketchum said.
The Wolverines return most of the same swimmers from last year, so it’s a realistic goal. They are actually favored to win it, along with Florida, who the Wolverines happen to have a meet against today.
“It’s definitely a new rivalry,” the 2002 Michigan Male Athlete of the Year said.
The Wolverines look to add another win to the series. They are 4-1 against the Gators, but all of the meets have been highly contested.
“We are always evenly matched,” Ketchum said.
Beating Florida would be a great step toward what the team hopes is going to be another highly successful year. After finishing ninth in the NCAAs last year, Michigan wants to improve. It returns almost everyone, and has just six freshmen (two swimmers and four divers). This has helped the cohesiveness of the team immensely. The Wolverines know that they are experienced and can get the job done, evidenced by their conference championship last year.
With this being Ketchum’s final year, he does acknowledge there is some sense of urgency.
“Like I told the freshmen, it’s only four years, and you’re going to miss it once it’s gone,” Ketchum said.
Knowing his final year was approaching, Ketchum trained harder than ever, and his hard work was rewarded in August at the Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic. He won a silver medal in the 200-meter freestyle. Although it was a nice start to the school year, he says that winning the Big Ten and the NCAA Championships are more important.
“It is a completely different atmosphere here at Michigan. It is more of a team than the national team,” the Cincinnati native said.
“The team really pushes each other — there is a good competitive nature to the practices. We are really close, and this helps,” Ketchum said.
Although his highest goals are team-related, he also wants to make the 2004 Olympic team, along with a few of his other teammates. The post-graduates helped him train during the past offseason.
“They have really helped to teach me and the other guys,” Ketchum said.
All of Ketchum’s lofty goals seem attainable. He hopes that he and the rest of the Wolverines get off to a positive start.