Saturday was an emotional day for the Michigan men”s swimming and diving team on many levels. The Wolverines not only faced their rivals from Michigan State, but they also said goodbye to legendary diving coach Dick Kimball and honored the five seniors who will graduate this year. The Michigan swimmers enjoyed the fanfare, but, unphased by the emotional and potentially distracting events, they also made sure to handle the competition in the pool.
The Wolverines took the first six events of the meet en route to a 137-99 victory over the Spartans. The early lead proved insurmountable for Michigan State, which managed to win just four of the 13 events. The atmosphere of the meet seemed almost casual for the Wolverines, many of whom swam events on Saturday that they hadn”t swam the entire season.
Jason Coben swept the diving events an appropriate performance following the ceremony at the beginning of the meet to honor Kimball”s many years of coaching. The team surprised the coach, dedicating the diving pool in his name. The entire team expressed its gratitude toward Kimball as an outstanding coach as well as a great person.
Kimball not only offered his coaching skills to his divers, but he also acknowledged the importance of the swimming aspect of the team earning the respect of every member of the team.
“I wish we could have given him more than naming a pool after him,” senior captain Eric Wilson said. “I think he”s proved his love for the sport and for Michigan.”
Wilson and his fellow seniors competed for the last time at Canham Natatorium this weekend. As a class, the seniors have helped lead the team to a Big Ten championship and placed no lower than 14th at the NCAA championships for three seasons.
“It felt good to swim this last meet,” Siciliano said. “It”s a great thing to swim for Michigan, a great honor.”
Siciliano has racked up honors while swimming as a Wolverine, winning the national championship in the 400-yard individual medley the first three years of his career.
“Tim obviously showed Michigan his best, winning those three IM championships,” Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek said.
The coach also had nothing but praise for the senior class as a whole.
“Good swimmers come and go, but good people, as a class, that”s hard to find,” he said. “We”re going to miss them.”
Siciliano and Wilson, along with Matt Raines, Jordan Watland, Jason Mallory and Jon Arndt have led the team for the past four years in and out of the pool. Arndt has taken the role of assistant coach due to a shoulder injury his freshman year that left him unable to compete, but he is still very much a part of the senior class. Urbanchek said they were “probably the best class academically,” citing the fact that all the seniors will graduate in four years. The coach especially praised Mallory”s academic performance, saying: “He exemplifies the real student athlete at Michigan.”
All of the seniors competed Saturday in the win over Michigan State, which brought Michigan”s final dual meet record to 8-3. The meet served not only as a sentimental goodbye to Canham Natatorium, but also as a warm up for the competition the team has been looking forward to all year: The Big Ten Championships.
“We”ve got two and a half weeks left,” Wilson said of the championships. “I think we”ll be ready. We”ve already started to taper.”
Siciliano agreed, stating his desire to finish his career on the best note possible.
“As a team, we”re going to put up a good fight against Minnesota,” the three-time NCAA champion said. “(The Gophers) think they”re going to come in there and just beat everyone like they did last year. But I think we”ve got a good chance of beating them this year, and that would be a great thing to end my Michigan swimming career on.”