With the first meet of coach Bob Bowman’s reign and
freshman Dane Grenda’s collegiate career underway, Grenda
dove into lane one to give Michigan a 0.12 second lead in the
400-yard medley relay. Fellow freshmen Grant Burtch and Alex
Vanderkaay extended Grenda’s lead, and junior Chris DeJong
rounded out the race, beating Eastern Michigan by 1.9 seconds.

The 11 points Michigan took from that medley relay were the
first of the Michigan men’s swimming and diving team’s
158 points this weekend, helping the Wolverines defeat Eastern
Michigan by 73 points in the short course matchup. The Wolverines
won 11 of the 13 events Friday in Ypsilanti.

This vibrant freshman trio jump-started Michigan’s
dominance of the meet and brought the entire team to its feet
cheering.

“It was really great to see the first three swims that we
had all be freshmen, and all of them went right on their best times
to win the relay,” senior captain Nicholas Douville said.
“(That performance) got the whole team fired up.”

The upperclassmen followed up the freshmen’s success by
winning the next four events. Seniors Zayd Ma and Brendan Neligan
maintained a dominating lead throughout the 1,000-yard freestyle,
finishing first and second against a group of inexperienced Eastern
Michigan swimmers.

Ma went on to win the 200-yard butterfly, while Neligan defeated
a seven-person field to win the 500-yard freestyle by .47
seconds.

Senior Chuck Sayao finished with a winning time of 1:52.62
seconds in the 200-yard individual medley, and then went on to win
the 200-yard backstroke by 1.79 seconds. Sayao was followed by
Grenda and Douville, who gave Michigan a 1-2-3 finish, 1.02 seconds
faster than the first Eastern Michigan swimmer.

Despite all of the action in the pool, the talk in the bleachers
at Jones Natatorium was centered around Michael Phelps. The
six-time Olympic gold medalist, who is working with the team as a
training partner, was decked out in maize and blue on the Michigan
bench. Although the crowd only seemed to care about getting a
Phelps’ autograph, the entire Michigan team couldn’t
stop talking about the strong freshman presence.

“They certainly met my expectations for this meet,”
Bowman said. “I thought we swam very well, particularly the
freshmen. I think they all swam near their best times, which is a
pretty good thing to do early in the season.”

Bowman and his captains viewed this meet as an opportunity to
see how the entire team swam and what it needs to work on, keeping
its goal of the Big Ten Championships in mind.

“What it gave us is a starting point,” Bowman said.
“Now we can go back and practice on some specific things from
this meet. We kind of showed where we are weak and where we are
doing things well. We don’t turn very well and we don’t
start very well. We will have to work on that.”

Said senior Andrew Hurd: “It’s good preparation for
the rest of the year, and, if we keep building on this, we will
continue to do well and we will be much stronger in the
future.”

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