As the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team travels into Boilermaker territory for the Big Ten Championships, it has one thing on its mind – to swim, and to swim fast.

Having endured a rigorous season with just two home meets, the Wolverines look to the Big Ten Championships as a chance to prove their strength and endurance.

No. 19 Michigan drove the five-and-a-half hours to Purdue yesterday morning so it could warm up and prepare for tonight’s events.

Being 2-0 at the conclusion of their Big Ten schedule, the swimmers are eager to

prove that they can keep up with some of the best teams in the country.

“I think the girls are ready for the Championships,” said Michigan coach Jim

Richardson. “They each have a good mind set for their competition. We’ve been

working all season for this meet and the NCAA Championships. They know it’s

time to put it all on the line.”

Not only is this meet important for the Wolverines’ Big Ten ranking, but it will also be

the last chance for some of the swimmers to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Alabama next month.

“We already have five girls qualified for the NCAA Championships,” Richardson said. “But I hope that a few others pull out some fast times this weekend, so we can add to our numbers.”

Leading swimmers Emily-Clare Fenn, Erin Abbey and Amy McCullough are expected to be top qualifiers at Big Tens.

Fenn, a junior from Connecticut, will be swimming the 500-yard freestyle, where she is seeded 15th out of 59 swimmers. Abbey, a senior from Ohio, is scheduled to swim the 50-yard free, in which she is seeded fifth out of 98.

McCullough, a sophomore from West Bloomfield, is seeded third of 90 in the 200-yard free.

“We are going to have some tough competition,” said Richardson. “The meet will have five teams that are ranked in the top 25 nationally.”

No. 9 Wisconsin will be the toughest team for Michigan to compete against, as the Badgers have many returning swimmers, 12 of whom have already qualified for the NCAA Championships. Wisconsin will be followed closely by 2002 Big Ten team champion Penn State.

With the conclusion of the championships on Saturday, the Wolverines are hoping to return to Ann Arbor with fast swims, impressive times and some hardware for their efforts.

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