COLUMBUS Before Saturday”s men”s swimming meet started, Brutus the Buckeye, Ohio State”s mascot, paraded around the deck dangling a stuffed wolverine from a chain. He swung the unfortunate animal around in front of the Michigan team and then drowned it in the diving pool.
That was the only Wolverine to get into trouble in the water.
Michigan (4-0 Big Ten, 7-3 overall) beat Ohio State (2-1, 9-1) 142-101, taking four of the first five races, including a sweep of the 400-yard individual medley. Garrett Mangieri earned victories in the 50 and 100 freestyles to lead the Wolverines, and five other Michigan swimmers also touched for first-place finishes.
Mangieri said Ohio State”s effort to excite the crowd actually helped Michigan.
“The Buckeye was here, and there was a pretty good amount of people here, so we knew that they were going to be pumped up,” he said. “So it kind of got us pumped up as well because we knew they were going to be pushing against us.”
Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek mixed things up for this meet, putting some Wolverines in different events than they normally swim. Andrew Hurd competed in the 200-yard freestyle for the first time in a dual meet this year and earned a second-place showing to go along with his victory in the 500 freestyle.
Hurd welcomed the switch from the 1,000-yard freestyle to a sprint, but it wasn”t just for fun. Hurd said he was looking ahead to the Big Ten Championships at the end of February.
“I want to make that 4 x 200 relay at the end of the year at Big Tens so I just wanted to get a pretty good time, see where I”m at,” Hurd said.
Brendan Neligan swam his usual event, the 1,000-yard freestyle, with the usual result a first-place finish. He jumped out to an early lead and, without Hurd to pose a challenge, found himself cruising to the finish well ahead of the field. Michigan showcased its distance depth as Zayd Ma, stepping in for Hurd, swam to a career best mark of 9:23.91 to take third. The Wolverines also performed well in the 500 freestyle, grabbing the top three spots.
Despite Ohio State”s 9-0 record prior to Saturday, Michigan came in with a fairly relaxed attitude. Urbanchek credits the Buckeyes” success to a soft schedule and said the meet “puts them back to reality.”
Unranked Ohio State had faced just one top 25 team, Indiana, before falling to No. 11 Michigan. The Wolverines have faced seven ranked teams, beating four.
Michigan used the meet to send Ohio State a message.
“In a conference meet we were going to come in here and let them know that they”re not going to be able just to come to Big Tens and keep winning easy, easy battles like that,” Mangieri said.
In addition to the new events several Wolverines swam, there was something else out of the ordinary in the Peppe Aquatic Center. A lifeguard was stationed poolside, presumably in case one of the well-conditioned athletes got a cramp.
That precautionary measure “was definitely a first for us,” Mangieri said. “I”ve never seen anyone drown in a competition before.”
Luckily, all of the swimmers managed to finish their races without incident. The only one who needed help was that stuffed wolverine victimized by Brutus and, not surprisingly, the hometown lifeguard did not offer assistance.