The Michigan women’s swimming and diving team started the NCAA Championships on Thursday with solid performances, putting the Wolverines in excellent position to advance in the standings on Friday. As the tournament progressed, the team advanced as high as 13th place, only to fall to 17th after failing to qualify anyone for the final day’s events.
Auburn won with a total of 518.5 points, and Michigan finished with a total of 67.5 points. The Wolverines’ 17th-place result represented a step back from their tie for 14th place at last season’s NCAA meet.
The 200-yard freestyle relay team of juniors Kaitlyn Brady and Lindsey Smith, freshman Hannah Smith and senior Abby Seskevics kicked off the weekend by finishing in eighth place. The squad attained Michigan’s first All-American honor of the championships and its third All-American honor in this event in four years.
“I thought they swam well . they finished eighth and they’re All-Americans,” Michigan coach Jim Richardson told MGoBlue.com. “That is something to be really proud of.”
The 400-yard medley relay team of Brady, Lindsey Smith, sophomore Justine Mueller and freshman Payton Johnson carried Michigan’s momentum into its performance with a 12th-place finish, which garnered an All-America honorable mention.
Brady and Lindsey Smith won the only individual honors of the day after their finishes in the 50-yard freestyle earned them each All-America honorable mentions. But Brady’s fifth-place finish in the event ended her 20-race winning streak.
Elyse Lee – the only Michigan diver competing – finished 25th out of 40 competitors in the one-meter springboard preliminaries. It was quite an accomplishment, considering Lee was the first Michigan diver to compete in the tournament in two seasons.
“I am really proud of the girls,” Richardson said after the team’s day-one finishes.
On the second day, the team gained even more ground with outstanding performances in the 100-yard butterfly, the 200-yard medley relay team and the 400-yard individual medley relay.
Brady finished fifth in the 100-yard individual butterfly, adding a third career and first individual All-American honor to her career totals. Brady attacked the start and led for the first 50 yards, but the eventual champion, Georgia’s Mary Descenza, passed Brady to win the event for the second year in a row.
Richardson told MGoBlue.com he was satisfied with Brady’s effort in the 100-yard butterfly.
“For somebody who didn’t even place in the top 16 in the event last year, (Brady’s performance) is a tremendous accomplishment,” Richardson said. “She did a great job. That is the second-best time and the second-fastest time in the history of the conference. It was just a really good performance.”
Brady and the 200-yard medley relay team of Mueller, Lindsey Smith, and Carolina Sierra finished 10th overall, but in the consolation round, the team set a new school record of 1:40.02.
Mueller also finished with a strong performance in the 400-yard individual medley. She finished 16th overall with a time of 4:24.34 in the consolation final after finishing 14th in the preliminary with a time of 4:17.23. The performance was her second career All-America honorable mention in the event.
On the final day of the championships, the Wolverines failed to advance past the preliminaries, terminating any hopes of a top-14 finish.