BLOOMINGTON — After dropping its last four dual meets, the
ninth-ranked Michigan men’s swimming and diving team was in
need of a turnaround this past weekend. Even though all the losses
came against top-10 teams, the trip to West Lafayette to face
Purdue on Friday, followed by a meet against No. 25 Indiana in
Bloomington on Saturday, presented an opportunity to right the
ship.

Laura Wong
The Wolverines lost four straight dual meets against top competition going into the weekend. (TONY DING/Daily)

After defeating Purdue, 129-114, and thrashing Indiana, 183-111,
in its first two conference duals of the season, the team was
optimistic about the remainder of the year.

“We haven’t won in a while, so it’s good to
get back in the win column,” assistant coach Eric Namesnik
said after the victory over Indiana. “Sometimes when you lose
a few too many times, you forget how to win. So it was good to beat
two Big Ten teams. We can continue to say that we’re one of
the best teams in the conference.”

Perhaps the story of the weekend was sophomore Davis
Tarwater’s successful conversion from freestyle to butterfly
events, highlighted by his individual titles in the 100- and
200-yard races in Bloomington. Against Purdue, Tarwater also won
the 200-yard individual medley.

“(Tarwater) has a great attitude,” coach Jon
Urbanchek said. “He’s handling the success away from
freestyle really well.”

“I’ve trained for a lot of different things, and
I’m doing a lot of different things in meets,” Tarwater
said. “I think that really keeps me well-balanced.
Versatility is a gift I can give to this team.”

Sophomores Peter Vanderkaay and Chris DeJong also came away with
two event titles each on Saturday, with Vanderkaay taking the 100-
and 500-yard freestyle races and DeJong winning the 100- and
200-yard backstroke events.

Despite the seemingly easy triumph against Indiana, the swimmers
still felt a sense of relief afterwards.

“It’s been such a long weekend, after a long week of
training,” junior Brendan Neligan said. “We
didn’t really rest much for this meet, and it’s tough
to swim tired. We just want to get out of here with a victory, then
get on the bus and go home.”

Indiana coach Ray Looze, Jr. was proud of his team’s
effort, taking into account Michigan’s lopsided 174.5-122.5
victory in last year’s meet. Last year both teams were fully
accounted for. This time, however, Looze was without his divers,
who were participating in the World Cup Diving trials in North
Carolina. As a consequence, Michigan won the uncontested diving
events by default.

“It’s just nice to have it be more competitive this
year,” said Looze. “We’re just trying to rebuild
the program here.”

Looze maintains he and his swimmers have nothing but the utmost
respect for Michigan swimming.

“We know what Michigan has been,” Looze said.
“A lot of Olympians, many Big Ten titles, numerous top-10
finishes and the national title (in 1995). It’s a great
challenge to swim against Michigan, and we value the opportunity,
but I will not rest until we take a win.”

Michigan, with a 35-29-1 record against Indiana, has not lost to
the Hoosiers since the 1998-99 season.

Neligan, who won the 1,000-yard freestyle against Purdue,
attributes the team’s success to a long history of dedication
and hard work.

“I’ve said since I’ve been here that
it’s not one person,” Neligan said. “(Individual)
success all depends on everyone else. Day-in and day-out, just
training hard. That’s been the key to the dominance at
Michigan.”

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