In this young season, the Michigan women”s swimming and diving team”s two meet losses can”t be attributed to its inability to be victorious in individual races.

Paul Wong
Sophomore Traci Valasco will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.<br><br>DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily

In an exhibition match against Harvard and a dual meet versus Florida, it has placed first in 19 of the 28 events, including 11 of 12 versus the Crimson. Yet, the Wolverines still managed to lose both meets.

The inability to finish with more than one swimmer in the top three of an event has led to the Wolverines being outscored in races that they have won. Michigan had five cases against Florida where two of the Gators” two swimmers were in the top three.

A reason for this has been the departure of last year”s top swimmers and the injuries hurting the development of those to fill their spots.

“We lost three Big Ten finalists from last season, two who were NCAA scorers,” swimming coach Jim Richardson said. “Jenay Karlson (freestyle) has been out for three weeks with a virus, Tracy Egnatuk was too sick to take with us last Friday and Traci Valasco (breaststroke/one meter board) is now out for the rest of the season as we are looking for someone to graph her knee.

“So yeah, our depth has been impacted. We”re not at 100 percent, but we don”t plan to be all season.”

While Richardson is adjusting to the losses from last year, diving coach Dick Kimball is right on the pace he wants to be with his group.

Sophomore Tealin Kelemen is undefeated this season and is the team”s best chance against the two top individuals that Minnesota and North Carolina will bring with them. Minnesota”s Kim Bahmer has already qualified for the NCAA Diving Zones in the one-meter competition while North Carolina”s Ashley Benner will provide a challenge in the three-meter, an event Benner has yet to lose in this season.

The other three looking to continue their success this weekend are senior Lindsay McElroy, junior Kelly Vander Kuyl and the rising star Alexis Goolik.

“Alexis is just a freshman and she”s already come a long way,” Kimball said. “As a team I just want them to compete well. We never concentrate much on dual meets, but they help us get ready for championships.”

The Wolverines will have to compete this weekend without Kimball as he will be coaching the men”s divers for their weekend meets in Ann Arbor, meaning that it will be tougher to get the scores they want, or perhaps deserve.

“In a subjective sport like diving, not having a representative (talking) with the judges can be a disadvantage,” Kimball said.

On the other side of the pool, breaststroke swimmer Kelli Stein will also face a huge task this weekend as she will go up against two of the nation”s best in North Carolina”s Katie Hathaway and Minnesota”s Keri Hehn. Since an all-Wolverine top three in the two breaststroke events is unlikely, it will be necessary for others to dominate the second-tier of swimmers for the remaining possible points.

“Katie Peterson, Lisbeth Goebel, Kera Drake and Andrea Kurrle will have some good competition at the second level,” Richardson said. “Hathaway and Hehn are elite and it will be a good challenge for Stein, who is in their league.

“I don”t think Kelli knows how good of a swimmer she is. She”s discovering a lot about work this year and is not the physically mature swimmer she will be in a year.”

Richardson hopes that the rest of his team can rebound from last weekend”s performance where some of the individual successes against Harvard and Brown were overshadowed by the team adjusting to the harsh workouts it endures every week.

“We swam tired last weekend. We had a couple people that performed will despite the team. A couple people really crashed,” said Richardson.

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