Presidential candidates road-tripping from state to state, fundraising, making every last-ditch effort to enhance their public image can only mean one thing: election year. The topic on everyone’s mind these days happens to be about the race for Washington. For the past couple of days, though, the Michigan men’s swimming and diving team concerned itself with a different kind of race in the other Washington.

Over the past three days, the Wolverines competed at the Weyerhaeuser Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. for the NCAA Men’s Swimming Championship. Coming off a Big Ten Championship and a perfect season, Michigan(9-0 overall, 4-0 Big Ten) was looking to add an NCAA Championship to its already impressive list of accomplishments.

There was no such exclamation point, but instead a fifth-place finish in what can be dubbed a successful campaign for the team.

“We met every goal that we had set for ourselves,” said Michigan coach Mike Bottom. “We left the NCAA with a big win in the consolation final, which I think was something that was even better than being in the final, because we got points we needed to win to get fifth.”

It was classic Michigan — standout performances by sophomores Connor Jaeger and Kyle Whitaker and senior Dan Madwed, followed up by strong performances by the rest of the team.

“You don’t need to be a hero,” Madwed said. “You don’t need to do anything out of character. You got there already for a reason, so you just need to be yourself.”

Michigan tallied its first points of the tournament thanks to juniors Miguel Ortiz, Sean Fletcher and Evan Gregg and freshman Bruno Ortiz in the 200-yard freestyle relay, as the group finished with a time of 1:18.36.

Right on cue, Jaeger produced yet another noteworthy performance in the 500-yard freestyle, clocking a career-best time of 4:13.78 in preliminaries and following it up with a 4:15.67 in the finals, earning him fifth-place. Ryan was right behind Jaeger in sixth place, posting a time of 4:17.27, earning both of them All-America honors.

At the end of day one, Michigan sat in sixth with 84 points.

On day two, the Wolverines truly asserted their dominance, garnering 11 All-America honors on Friday.

Proceedings began with the 200-yard medley relay team of Fletcher, both Ortiz brothers and Madwed, which placed sixth in the race with a time of 1:23.53. They added 26 points to Michigan’s point total and qualified for All-America designations.

Having been held relatively quiet the first day, Whitaker was looking to raise some eyebrows the second day, starting with the 400-yard individual medley. But like last year, he placed second.

“When you get second place, you always want to move up,” Bottom said. “Kyle knew what he was doing, and he chased the guy, he fought hard, and he almost caught the guy.”

The 800-yard freestyle quartet of Madwed, Wynalda, Jaeger and Whitaker placed fifth with a time of 6:21.55 to round off the night. Gregg also earned accolades as he helped the team qualify for the finals by swimming a leg of the race in the preliminaries.

With a successful campaign on day two, Michigan jumped a spot to fifth with 199 total points.

Two days of continuous swimming, though, was taking its toll on Michigan.

“Our best swimmers like Dan Madwed and Kyle Whitaker had to swim relays and then swim the individual events,” Bottom said. “So they were tired once the second day hit.”

But there was no time to stop.

Michigan’s hopes of a top-five finish in the championships were bolstered early on in the night by way of Jaeger’s third-place finish in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a 14:35.14, the third-fastest time in NCAA history.

The final day also brought the last opportunity for senior Dan Madwed to swim bearing the block-‘M.’

Soon after, Madwed stepped up to the platform in what would be his last individual collegiate race — the 200-yard butterfly.

“I wanted to help my team out as best as I could,” Madwed said. “The more I swam, the more potential for points I had, so that was definitely a goal.”

With 75 yards left to the finish line, Madwed was set up nicely in second place, but was unable to hold off fellow competitors, and ended up with a fifth-place finish with a time of 1:42.61.

“I don’t know what number swim that was, but I was already pretty tired,” Madwed said. “To come out of that race knowing I went for it, and I went for the win, and I did, so I was happy with that. And I didn’t come up with a win but I’m just glad that I had the opportunity to go for it on my last year.”

With many members returning, expectations will be set high for the Wolverines next year. With experience under its belt, Michigan will look to capitalize next year and add more hardware to the collection. But before next season, many will be looking toward this summer’s London Olympics, none more so than Madwed.

“I just take away that anything is possible,” Madwed said. “If you want something bad enough and you really really try and believe that you can do it, you can do anything.”

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