You might call it “getting even.”

Mira Levitan
Michigan sophomore Peter Vanderkaay swims the 1,500-meter freestyle against Texas on Friday. The Longhorns pulled out a victory by winning the final event on Saturday, the 400-yard freestyle relay. (TONY DING/Daily)

Those were precisely the words used by Texas men’s
swimming and diving coach Eddie Reese (albeit half-jokingly) after
the second-ranked Longhorns narrowly defeated No. 8 Michigan,
227-221, in a two-day meet that came down to the final event
Saturday at Canham Natatorium.

The outcome proved to be a revenge of sorts dating back to last
year’s dual meet in Austin, Texas, when the then-ninth-ranked
Wolverines upset then-No. 1 Texas in (you guessed it) the last
relay.

“It was about as exciting as a college dual meet can
be,” Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek said after the loss.
“The fact is that Texas has three of the world’s best
athletes on their team, and it came down to the wire.”

The three athletes Urbanchek referred to were sophomore Aaron
Peirsol and seniors Ian Crocker and Brendan Hansen. The group owns
a total of five world records in addition to 2000 Olympic gold
(Crocker) and silver (Peirsol) medals.

Crocker and Peirsol swam the latter two legs of the
meet-clinching final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, in which
the Texas “A” team eked out a victory over the Michigan
“A” team of Andrew Hurd, Davis Tarwater, Chris DeJong
and Dan Ketchum. Texas’ winning time of 2:58.72 was just .64
seconds ahead of the second-place finishers.

After leading 111-94 after Friday’s events (held in
50-meter long-course distances), Texas kept it close through
Saturday’s races (held in the 25-yard short-course format) to
set up the thrilling finish.

“We knew they were going to come back today and be
tough,” said Michigan standout sophomore Peter Vanderkaay,
who was named co-Big Ten Swimmer of the Week last Wednesday.
“We have to give them credit because they have some really
talented guys who swam hard. We swam great too, it just happened
not to work out in our favor.”

Losing could not overshadow some positive signs for Michigan.
Perhaps the most impressive showing was Vanderkaay’s win (and
NCAA consideration time) in the 400-yard individual medley, an
event he has not competed in since his first-ever Michigan
meet.

“I haven’t done that race in a while,” said
Vanderkaay, who earned first-place finishes in all three of his
events on Saturday. “I just wanted to try my best for the
team, and I went out there and swam hard. It’s kind of like
bringing (the race) back from the dead.”

Urbanchek has taken to calling Vanderkaay “the workhorse
of this team.”

Reese, who will coach the U.S. Olympic team in Athens in 2004,
found a lot to like in Michigan’s effort.

“Michigan is always one of the toughest teams we
face,” he said. “When the gun goes off, they’ll
fight you to the last rung, and they’ll finish a race better
than anybody in the country.”

Specifically, Reese pointed to the Wolverines’ impressive
showing in the distance events.

“They just kept beating us with that rubber mallet on top
of the head in all those events,” he said. “It was very
frustrating. We’d get up close, and they’d knock us
back down. Diving came through for us. Had (our divers) not,
we’d have been on the other end.”

Urbanchek was proud of his team despite the loss.

“We performed extremely well as far as the team
goes,” he said. “When you settle back down into Big Ten
level competition, these guys are going to have all the
experience.”

Michigan has two weeks off before the swimmers travel to Federal
Way, Wash., for the U.S. Open, while the divers will head to
Austin, Texas, for the Texas Invitational.

 

 

 

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