The Michigan men”s swimming team rang in the new year by eclipsing its dual meet loss total for all of 2001. Michigan lost to Arizona State 132-111 in Tempe, Ariz. this past Saturday after coming up short against Arizona the previous day. The Wildcats won 124-119 in Tucson.
The Wolverines, who had been undefeated in dual meets this season going into the weekend, fell to 4-2 (1-0 Big Ten). Prior to this weekend, Michigan”s last defeat was Jan. 6, 2001 against California.
“We were pretty disappointed because we could have won,” said freshman Andrew Hurd.
But Michigan”s coach had a different outlook. Jon Urbanchek said he was “not disappointed at all” and described the weekend as “very exciting” and “productive.”
Urbanchek pointed out the quality of Michigan”s opponents and the close margin of defeat on both days as reasons for his optimism. Neither the fifth-ranked Sun Devils nor eighth-ranked Wildcats have lost a dual meet this season. Michigan is the No. 12 team in the country.
Michigan and Arizona State both swam to their strengths on Saturday. The Sun Devils controlled the sprints, sweeping the 50-yard freestyle, 400 medley relay and 200 backstroke.
“They slammed us,” Urbanchek said.
The Wolverines countered by taking the top three spots in the 1000 freestyle, 200 butterfly and 200 breaststroke.
Sophomore Dan Ketchum won the 200 freestyle with an NCAA consideration time of 137.61. Tim Siciliano and Jeff Hopwood also had victories in the 500 freestyle and 200 breaststroke, respectively.
“We stayed within striking distance,” Urbanchek said. “It basically came down to the relay at the end in both meets.”
Michigan”s 400 relay teams couldn”t come through in either meet. Ketchum, Jordan Watland, Matt Raines and Mike Porth finished third behind the Arizona State”s A and B teams.
Against Arizona, Hurd teamed up with Ketchum, Watland and Porth to grab a second-place finish, but Michigan needed to win the event to win the meet.
The Wolverines are usually stronger in individual events than in relays, and they knew the importance of the final event in both meets.
“There was a fair bit of pressure, but I tried to just forget about that and try my best.” Hurd said.
Before facing Arizona and Arizona State, Michigan spent 11 days training in Flagstaff, Ariz. In addition to swimming for two hours twice a day, the Wolverines did dry land training for one hour before their night workouts.
Flagstaff”s altitude of 7,000 feet made the practices even more difficult, but Urbanchek expects long-term rewards. Training in high altitude increases red blood cell counts, which allows for greater oxygen intake.
Hurd said he felt the benefits immediately when Michigan descended to Tucson and Tempe for the dual meets. He ended the trip feeling relaxed and confident, despite Michigan”s two losses.
“It was one of the best training camps I”ve had,” Hurd said. “We try not to let (the losses) get us down because they”re two top teams.”