Two times in the span of a month, the city of Columbus has been the place where Michigan swimmers had one last chance to qualify for postseason swims.
In February, it was for the Big Ten Championships. On Sunday, it was for a larger-scale event — the 2011 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.
The No. 9 Michigan men’s swimming and diving team sent 12 swimmers to the Ohio State Last Ditch NCAA Meet in Columbus to improve times and potentially garner a bid to go to Minneapolis for NCAAs later this month.
The Wolverines had plenty of strong performances on Sunday and saw improved times in many races, though none of the swimmers found that elusive ‘A’ cut to give them an automatic bid to compete in the National Championships.
“Our goal coming in here was to qualify the 200-yard free relay team,” Michigan coach Mike Bottom said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get that done, even though we were so close on all three attempts.”
The closest chance the Wolverines had to qualify the 200-yard relay washed away after a false start was called against the team in the finals — leading to a disqualification. Bottom said the time the team swam would’ve been good enough to earn the relay a potential spot, but the false start made that time irrelevant.
In terms of individual performances, the Michigan swimmers didn’t squander the opportunity they had to improve on times and end their seasons on a high note. Freshman Conor Jaeger swam his career-best time in the 200-yard freestyle with a ‘B’ consideration time of 1:37.83, giving him his first ‘B’ cut of his young career.
Other individuals provided the Wolverines with a look of what’s to come in the following seasons for the squad. Freshman John Wojciechowski turned in a career-best and ‘B’ consideration time in the 100-yard butterfly in his second attempt of the day.
Senior Tony Wahl, in what could very well be his final meet of his swimming career, swam a personal-best time in the 200-yard butterfly and earned a ‘B’ consideration time.
Even though Michigan didn’t accomplish its goal, the Wolverines are still sending 11 or 12 swimmers to Minneapolis later this month and training has already begun as the squad tries to add another trophy to the Big Ten Championship it won last week.
“We started training (the 11 guys) that already qualified for NCAAs this week and they’ve been working hard for a good week now,” Bottom said. “We know where we are now in terms of guys (after this meet), so now it’s basically training and preparing for the next couple weeks before we head to NCAAs.”