Women’s swimming and diving is rarely considered a team sport. Complete squads do not qualify for the NCAAs; swimmers can only advance by attaining certain times in events.
But for Michigan, teamwork is essential.
At the NCAA Championships held in Auburn, Ala. this past weekend, Michigan showcased its talent in relay and medley events – races featuring more than one person.
“This group had a vision,” Michigan coach Jim Richardson said. “We’re at this championship meet because of our relays.”
On Thursday, the first day of the event, the Wolverines competed in the 200-yard freestyle relay preliminaries in the morning. Michigan was not invited to Auburn for this event, but the team figured it had a slim chance of qualifying for the finals. Surprisingly, they qualified, posting a time of 1:31.33, their fastest of the season.
” Qualifying for the 200-yard freestyle relay was a shocker,” Richardson said. “No one expected us to qualify in that event for the finals.”
The team of Laura Kaznecki, Erin Abbey, Abby Seskevics, and Anne Weilbacher finished eighth in the finals with a time of 1:32.03.
Later on that night, Abbey and Weilbacher teamed up with Amy McCullough and Kelli Stein to capture 11th place in the 400-yard medley relay. Twice in the same day, the relays were successful.
“The 400-yard medley was solid,” Richardson said. ” We took pride in trying to score points in this medley.”
Eleventh- and 12th-place finishes were also recorded in the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay, respectively. The Wolverines finished 14th overall, and each of the nine swimmers who competed garnered All-America or honorable All-America status.
For a team that was not even ranked in the top 30 earlier this year, ending the year in this fashion is quite impressive.
“This was a terrific year for us,” Richardson said. “They put forth a consistent effort throughout. They knew that to have a better year, they were going to do it themselves and do it as a group. They support one another, step up when they need to and are there for each other.”
For the senior Wolverines, they will never swim for Michigan again. But one thing is for sure – they will always be there for their teammates.
“When their reunion comes up at Michigan, I know that they will all come back just to see each other,” Richardson said. “This is a special group.”