Friday Michigan’s unsuspecting men’s swimming team jumped into what proved to be dangerous waters at Stanford’s outdoor Avery Aquatic Center. The top team in the nation knew that No. 3 Stanford, a team that had seven weeks off to prepare for its encounter with the Wolverines, would be tough to beat. They did not, however, expect what coach Jon Urbanchek referred to as “an ambush.”

“At Stanford, the competition is never friendly,” Urbanchek said. “It’s like going into a war zone.”

On top of the intimidation that comes along with entering such hostile territory, Michigan also had to cope with something that swimming in its own Canham Natatorium could prepare them for – rain. The weather took several swimmers by surprise, adding a little more chaos to an already intense competition.

“We weren’t prepared for swimming outside,” Urbanchek said. “Some of the guys didn’t even know that the meet was going to be outside, and the ones who did expected sunshine and blue skies. The travel also took its toll on the swimmers.”

By the time the brutal Cardinal was finished with the Wolverines, it had a lead of more than 50 points, and a firm grasp on the top ranking.

“Stanford swam like the number 1 team,” Urbanchek said. “They were ready for us.”

After picking up the pieces on Friday night, the Wolverines awoke to yet another day of challenges. This time, they faced No. 4 California – and another day of rainy weather. But the Wolverines learned from the trials they experienced a day earlier.

“I was really proud of how they were able to turn things around after Stanford,” Urbanchek said. “I told them that it’s nothing to fall down, but it would be a problem if we couldn’t get back up. They did a great job bouncing back.”

In spite of the fact that Michigan placed first in seven of the 13 events in its second dual meet of the weekend, the formerly top-ranked Wolverines fell to the Golden Bears by 15 points. With just the 200-yard breaststroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay standing between the Wolverines and what would have been a significant dual meet victory, Michigan could manage just second-place finishes in both, which left them slightly behind the Golden Bears.

“The meet really came down to the wire,” Urbanchek said.

Though the scores might lead one to believe that the Stanford and California meets were unsuccessful, the results say otherwise. While in California, the Wolverines managed to rack up 10 NCAA consideration times and several personal bests – all of which were goals Urbanchek hoped to obtain.

Michigan’s freshmen played a vital role in the scoring, capturing five of the first-place finishes. Tyler DeBerry initiated the string of victories, with his time of 9:16.39 in the 1,000-yard freestyle.

“DeBerry came through for us,” Urbanchek said. “That was a big swim.”

Pete Vanderkaay, the only double-event winner, won both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle. An injured Chris DeJong managed to come out on top in the 200-yard backstroke, while Davis Tarwater was victorious in the 200-yard butterfly. Vanderkaay also clocked in first in two events against Stanford.

Junior Dan Ketchum also walked away with an individual win in the 200-yard individual medley, earning an NCAA consideration time.

In the end, however, California’s sprinting power and relay victory allowed it to come out on top.

This weekend’s defeats, according to Urbanchek, will probably put the Wolverines in the sixth or seventh spot in national rankings. Despite the drop, he is looking forward to five weeks of meets against teams such as Purdue and Northwestern in Ann Arbor.

“We are just getting ready for meets galore now,” Urbanchek said. “It’s great that our traveling is over, and that we can enjoy a home-field advantage for now on.”

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