The Michigan women’s swimming and diving team learned a
lot about itself this weekend at the Boilermaker Challenge in West
Lafayette.

“We were better in some cases than we thought we would
be,” coach Jim Richardson said. “We are very
optimistic.”

No. 17 Michigan finished in fifth place against a highly
competitive field of eight CSCAA top-25 teams. The Wolverines
placed ahead of Virginia, the No. 15 team in the country, and
proved that they could swim with some of the best teams in the
country.

“The teams that finished ahead of us were all in the
top-10,” said Richardson. “We were a spitting distance
behind the No. 8 team. Everyone swam in-season- best
times.”

Michigan finished 71 points behind UCLA, the eighth-best team in
the country. Sophomore Susan Gilliam’s NCAA qualifying times
of 4:45.02 in the 500-yard freestyle and 16:20.85 in the 1650-yard
freestyle paced the Wolverines in their high finish.

“(Susan) had the best in-season meet of her life,”
said Richardson. “She is way ahead of her
progression.”

Three other Wolverines posted NCAA- consideration times. Justine
Mueller bettered the “B” qualifying standard in the
200- and 400-yard individual medley races. Lindsey Smith’s
finish in the 200-yard freestyle and Kaitlyn Brady’s times in
the 100-yard backstroke and freestyle also qualified for an NCAA
“B”-standard time.

“I am pleased with the ability of our young team to
compete effectively with top teams,” said Richardson.

Despite the optimism, the team sees room for improvement.
Richardson identified two things that Michigan especially needs to
work on.

“We’re not good on the walls because of long-course
training,” said Richardson. “Aerobically, we are not
where we will be at the end of the season. Those are our greatest
weaknesses.”

If the team can improve in these areas, it will be able to
accomplish its goals as the season progresses. The coach also
believes maintaining focus and preparation will allow the team to
reach its expectations.

“We need to keep our heads screwed on straight and do the
things we have been doing,” said Richardson.

On the diving boards, Michigan was led by Elyse Lee’s 11th
place performance on the one-meter springboard, and Ellen Van
Cleve’s eighth-place finish on the three-meter
springboard.

Michigan will look to build upon its performance when it hosts
Ohio State on Nov. 12 at Canham Natatorium.

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