With the Hawkeye Invitational right around the corner, the No. 22 Michigan women’s swimming and diving team used this weekend’s three-day Purdue Invitational to show case some of its younger athletes.
The Wolverines have a larger squad than they can travel with to every event, so the coaching staff decided to split the team into two groups. The first group stayed in Ann Arbor to continue training for the Hawkeye Invitational, while the others traveled to West Lafayette to compete in the Purdue invitational.
Only 14 Michigan student-athletes traveled with the team this weekend, so the Wolverines were unable to compete in several of the events and placed seventh out of seven teams.
On the first day, the Wolverines managed to get three swimmers and two divers into the evening finals. In the ‘C’ final for the 50-yard freestyle, junior Nikki Hubbard finished 21st with a time of 24.36 seconds, while her teammate sophomore Molly Schaefer finished 24th, half a second behind her. The third swimmer to make it to a ‘C’ final was sophomore Kayla Douglas, who had a particularly strong showing throughout the invitational and finished 23rd in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:10.42.
A day later, Douglas captured nine points for her team as she barely missed the ‘A’ final in the 100-yard backstroke. She took ninth place with a time of 56.19 seconds — only .42 seconds behind the eighth place finisher, Emily O’Neill, from Louisville.
She finished her trip to Lafayette with a stellar, near-lifetime best performance in the 200-yard backstroke, placing eighth and securing 11 more points for the Wolverines.
“On just a couple days rest, that’s some pretty good stuff,” said associate head coach Rick Bishop about Douglas.
However, the true battle this weekend was between the home team, No.25 Purdue, and No.23 Louisville. At the end of the first day, Louisville was up by just 1.5 points. Though with help from a couple Purdue swimmers, like junior Emily Fogle, who won the third heat of the 100-yard breaststroke in the preliminaries with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 59.34, the Boilermakers took charge. Two winning performances by the Purdue relays gave them a 32.5 point lead over Louisville on Day Two.
In the end, it was the Cardinals who were able to eek out a 695.5-685 win over the Boilermakers because of their performance in the finals. Louisville dominated the 200-yard backstroke in the ‘A’ final, taking the top-three places and had at least one swimmer finish in the top three in six other finals.
The Wolverines, on the other hand, earned a meager 35 points in this weekend’s competition, but with an emphasis on training for the Hawkeye Invitational. And giving a few of the up-and-coming swimmers and divers a chance to compete, they accomplished just that.