After Michigan coach Bob Bowman won a Coach of the Year award, brought in a top preseason recruiting class and coached an overall solid month in the pool, it was starting to seem like things couldn’t get better for the men’s swimming and diving team.
This weekend, they most certainly did.
In an event littered with the world’s top swimming talent, the Wolverines showed why they deserve to be near the top of the collegiate ranks. Michigan won the college division at the U. S. Open, as its 293 points handily defeated competition that included the likes of No. 1 Auburn (91.5 points) and No. 9 Northwestern (118 points).
The Wolverines put up solid numbers across the board while achieving some personal bests and several NCAA “B” times, attained by breaking a certain time set at the event.
Freshman Scott Span captured NCAA “B” times finishing fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke (2:17.91) and seventh in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:03.67).
“Scott Span’s breaststroke and Matt Patton’s freestyle performances were really impressive,” Bowman said. “They swam extremely hard today and did great jobs in each of their events.”
Patton recorded a personal best in the 1,500-meter freestyle, finishing fourth overall with a time of 15:30.64. He also picked up a NCAA “B” time (3:56.13) in the 400-meter freestyle to cap off a notable weekend.
Juniors Alex Vanderkaay and Dane Grenda added to the rout; both recorded multiple NCAA “B” times, finishing first and fourth in the 200-meter butterfly and first and seventh in the 400-meter individual medley.
“Our guys were able to step up and swim tough against excellent international competition,” Bowman said. “They were very prepared for the challenge.”
The Wolverines were also impressive in the 4×100-medley relay. Span, Patton, sophomore Bobby Savulich and freshman Chris Brady garnered an NCAA “B” time in the event. The quartet was just one-hundredth of a second behind the Club Wolverine team that included former Wolverine stars Davis Tarwater and Peter Vanderkaay, along with Michigan assistant coach Michael Phelps.
Bowman was thrilled with his team’s performance, especially since the event was filled with some of the top teams. Bowman is even more pleased with Michigan’s showing given that Michigan is in the heart of its training regimen.
“We have trained extremely hard recently,” Bowman said. “It is great to have our guys go out and swim like they did at the peak of their training.”
Bowman was recently named National Coach of the Year at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggle Awards. Assistant coach Michael Phelps, who also received two awards, accompanied him at the podium. Bowman attributed the award to his team’s hard work over the past several years.
“It was the swimmers who really worked hard, and it was simply though their work and dedication that I received this award,” Bowman said.
Michigan will look to carry its momentum into its next match against the Mexican National Team on Jan. 2.