Over the weekend, the No. 5 Michigan men’s swimming and diving team battled hard to defeat No. 8 Indiana, but ultimately fell to the nation’s top-ranked team, No. 1 Texas.
Michigan (1-0 Big Ten, 3-1 overall) outscored Indiana (1-1 Big Ten, 2-5 overall) 167-133 and lost to Texas (4-0 overall) by a score of 168.5-131.5 at the meet held in Bloomington.
The Longhorns won 8 of the 16 events while the Wolverines finished first in three. Sophomore Scott Spann won both his 100- and 200-yard breaststroke races and junior Matt Paton won the 500-yard Freestyle. Michigan was outscored 20 points by Texas in the diving events. Junior Kyle Schroeder placed sixth one- meter diving and fourth in the three-meter.
The meet between three of the country’s top 10 teams provided close competition in nearly every race. Of the 14 swimming events, 15 were won with a difference of less than two seconds between the first and second place swimmers. Michigan coach Bob Bowman credited Texas’ win to its strong finishes.
“Texas was mainly able to win this meet by out touching us, Bowman said. “It was a matter of tenths of seconds.”
The 100-yard breaststroke was particularly close. Spann (51.21) won the race over Texas swimmer Matt Lowe by just one one-hundredth of a second.
The final score of the meet however, does not tell the whole story. Bowman was impressed with his swimmers’ performances against the nations top teams, even when they lose a race by a tenth of a second.
“The first thing I say is well, lets try to get better,” Bowman said. “But when your swimming Texas what you have to understand is that the people they were getting touched out by are the consensus favorites to win their events at the NCAAs. They are the absolute best swimmers in college.
One of the most dramatic races of the meet came during the 1,000-yard Freestyle when Michigan junior Matt Paton actually tied Texas junior Michael Klueth for first place, finishing with a time of 8:59.20. The time was the fastest time recorded this year, but the event is non-NCAA qualifying.
“The first thing (I thought) was what a great race, Bowman said. “Neither one of them was getting an edge, and it’s a long way to go to have such a close race. I was very excited it was such a close race because Michael Klueth is clearly the best long distance swimmer in the country, and Matt is aspiring to get there, so we’re very happy.
Bowman was also pleased with the performances of this season’s freshman class despite the difficulty they face in adjusting to swimming for the university.
“Some of them are still in that phase, Bowman said. “Tyler Clary steps up and swims, and Neal Kennedy in particular has stepped up. The general level of everything we do is so much more intense, it tends to wear them out.”
The Wolverines will have the next two weeks off before they head to Evanston for two more dual meets against Northwestern and Wisconsin on Nov. 16 and 17, but Bowman said the team have plenty to work on.
“Clearly the things that Texas was better at than us was turns and kicking out underwater,” Bowman said. “And while we’re working on that we still have a long way to go to get competitive with the very best teams, so that’s something we’re going to focus on.”