It’s 80 degrees and sunny for Michigan men’s
swimming coach John Urbanchek.

Urbanchek, along with sophomore swimmer Jorge Carral, has made
his way down to Orlando, Fla., for some brighter days in the U.S.
Nationals.

A five-day event that will continue through Saturday, the U.S.
Nationals gives swimmers around the country an opportunity to
qualify for the Olympics. Carral, a distance swimmer on
Michigan’s swimming and diving team, is hoping to accomplish
this very feat.

“Carral is trying to make his Olympic time standards for
Mexico,” assistant coach Eric Namesnik said. “Since
he’s from Mexico, he’ll be trying to represent his
country this summer. It’s an opportunity for him to meet
those standards that his country has set.”

High standards seem to be abundant for the Wolverines this month
as the rest of the team stays local and prepares for the biggest
challenge of the season. It might not be 80-degree weather, but the
team is warming up to the idea of another Big Ten Championship.

“The Big Tens is the best meet of the year,” junior
Mike Galindo said. “There’s just an aura of excitement
that’s around it. No one is there to swim slow, everyone is
there to swim fast.”

With the meet still three weeks away, and no other dual-meet
matches until then, Michigan is busy fine-tuning its skills.
Switching from long courses to short courses will pose a challenge
for the team, but with the extra work the players are putting into
turns, starts and finishes, the aspirations are high.

Michigan has already captured 11 NCAA championships, and the
team is working hard to make this year number 12. The Big Ten
Championships later this month are a key element in the road to a
national victory.

“It’s really important to prepare both mentally and
physically,” said Galindo. “As a team, we’re
taking these next three weeks to concentrate on the races in the
pool and our academics and activities outside of the pool.
We’re letting things calm down for a while and working on
just swimming — and blocking everything out for Big
Tens.”

The stakes at the Big Ten Championships are high but the
competition level is even higher. Eleven teams, three days and one
champion.

With the mounting pressure and excitement of such an important
event, mental preparation is just as important as physical
conditioning.

“To our advantage, we’ve had probably the toughest
schedule in the country,” Namesnik said. “We swam
against the top five teams from last year’s NCAAs already in
dual meets. Not to take anything away from the Big Ten teams
— there’s several good swimmers — but we’re
fairly battle tested, so to speak. Hopefully our guys will feel
confident going into this.”

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