One point separated the victors from the defeated in a true David and Goliath showdown.
This weekend, the No. 7 Michigan men’s swimming and diving team went up against No. 4 Texas and No. 12 Indiana in a double-dual meet at Canham Natatorium. The Wolverines defeated the Longhorns 150.5-149.5 and clobbered the Hoosiers 216-84.
“With a one-point margin, every single race matters,” said Michigan coach Mike Bottom Saturday. “Every person is important, especially the divers. This is a team sport and today proves that.”
The win didn’t come easily for the underdogs. Texas not only has world-class swimmers, but it is also led by Texas coach Eddie Rease — a three-time United States Men’s Olympic Team head coach. Reese has led the team to 10 NCAA team titles.
“We are challenging guys with full scholarships,” Bottom said. “Our team is running a system with little money and we are still beating or racing these guys to the wall in every race.”
Senior Dan Madwed put forth a remarkable weekend performance, winning the 200-yard butterfly, 200-yard individual medley, and 100-yard butterfly. The 2011 NCAA All American in four events put all of his effort into the meet.
“I won my events for the guys on this team,” Madwed said. “I knew that we would need every point that we could get because it was going to be a close meet.”
Sophomore Connor Jaeger finished first in his 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle races.
“Connor beat some of the best 200-yard freestylers in the world today,” Bottom said. “He stood up against the best athletes in this country.”
Added Madwed: “Those guys he was competing against are known all over the country and he didn’t care.”
Juniors Ryan Feeley and Miguel Ortiz won the 1,650-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke, respectively.
“We had to dig deep and gut it out,” Madwed said. “We talked about our plan all week and we knew what we had to do.”
The weekend bodes well for future performance this season, though it has little relevance with what the team plans to accomplish.
“We have to forget that we won this weekend,” Madwed said. “We need to forget that we beat Texas because we have bigger goals than that. We want to win Big Tens.”
It’s obvious that Michigan is a formidable contender in the Big Ten, but the team has yet to compete against the likes of No. 10 Ohio State and No. 22 Penn State.
As for this weekend, the Wolverines have a reason to celebrate.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Bottom said. “Our guys beat them with heart, commitment and understanding on how to fight like hell for Michigan.”