The stakes were high in Columbus this past weekend with collegiate careers on the line in the Ohio State Winter Invitational.
Several members of the Michigan men’s swimming and diving team laid it all on the line for their last swim meet before the Big Ten Championships next week. For others, it meant the conclusion of their season.
The seniors had the greatest motivation to claim the three spots given to the fourth-ranked Wolverines (4-0 Big Ten, 9-0 overall) for the Big Ten Championships.
Of the seven swimmers that competed for those spots, senior Casey Sreenan, junior Andrew Novakoff and redshirt freshman Jonathon Ekleberry were the top finishers, and they’ll head to Iowa City in a week.
Sreenan claimed victory in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 54.67. The senior swam with added motivation — the invitational would’ve been his final meet had he not qualified for the Big Ten Championships. He looked dominant and performed at a high level. Sreenan also placed second in the 200-meter breaststroke with a time of 2:02.26.
“(Sreenan) was the crowd favorite,” said Michigan coach Mike Bottom.
Ekleberry put up a time of 4:26.25 in the 500-meter freestyle to claim victory. He recorded a time of 1:40.33 in his 200-meter freestyle race, placing him 11th overall amongst the mixed batch of swimmers.
Novakoff placed third in the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 4:27.13, giving the Wolverines two out of the three top spots in that race.
The meet, which featured swimmers from the Big Ten, and other national programs including Louisville and Washington, was focused on individual competition. There was no team scoring to the meet, so swimmers even cheered on competitors from other schools.
“It wasn’t a real big team competition, so the other competitors were pulling for each other, even for our guys,” Bottom said.
The Michigan swimmers will be competing in the Big Ten Championships at Iowa next week. The undefeated Wolverines will look to continue asserting their dominance and hold their place at the top of the Big Ten.