Consistency. That’s what the No. 17 Michigan women’s swimming and diving team (2-0 Big Ten, 2-1 overall) is all about.
Need proof? Look at its dual-meet conference record over the last four seasons. With the Wolverines’ 126-112 victory over Ohio State this weekend, they have now won 12 consecutive dual meets against conference opponents. Their last loss came on Jan. 18, 2002.
The Wolverines’ latest conquest came over rival Ohio State at Canham Natatorium. The comfortable victory marked the beginning of their Big Ten dual-meet season, which they hope to keep perfect for the third consecutive year.
But Michigan has a very different squad from last season, as it lost a lot of experience to graduating seniors. The Wolverines — who feature 14 freshmen on their roster this season — have impressed Michigan coach Jim Richardson with their solid start.
“I’m really proud of this team.” Richardson said. “I think that they just have a lot of integrity in their preparation. They’re sticking to the plan. We came into this meet wanting to be sure that the way we race reflects the way we prepare. We prepare really well, and I thought we raced really well.”
The meet was highlighted by some impressive individual performances for many young Wolverines. Sophomore Susan Gilliam continued to blow the competition out of the water single-handedly, taking both the 500- and 1,000-yard freestyle races. Gilliam’s performance was particularly amazing in the 1,000-yard freestyle in which she posted the second fastest time in school history (9:45.89), finished nearly 30 seconds ahead of the next closest finisher and nearly two laps before anyone else.
The Michigan 400-yard medley relay of junior Carolina Sierra, freshman Valeria Silva, sophomore Kaitlyn Brady and junior captain Abby Seskevics started off the scoring for the Wolverines with a powerful first-place finish. The victory was just the beginning for Brady — the sprinter and backstroker led 1-2-3 Michigan sweeps in both the 50-yard freestyle and the 200-yard backstroke.
“I know everyone’s still a little tired,” Brady said. “This week has been really hard training, so it was tough to go from that and then come into this meet. But I think everyone swam really well because we took this meet pretty seriously.”
Sophomore Lindsey Smith finished on top in both the 100- and 200-yard freestyle races. The freshman duo of Justine Mueller and Michelle Uhlig also finished first and second, respectively, in the 200-yard individual medley.
With veteran divers, such as senior captain Alexis Goolik, taking a meet off and sophomore Ellen Van Cleve performing a little below par, the diving responsibilities fell on the shoulders of the freshmen talent. Up-and-comer Elyse Lee was the top Michigan finisher, taking second in the one-meter dive and fifth in the three-meter dive.
The Wolverines will take a break from dual meet competition this Friday when they head to Bloomington, Ind. for the Indiana Invitational.