In the second week of the U.S. Olympic Trials, the river of
Michigan swimmers named to the U.S. Olympic team dried up as no
more current or former Wolverines qualified for the upcoming games
in Athens, Greece.

Junior Chris DeJong might have had best chance to be the sixth
Michigan swimmer to qualify, but he faced stiff competition in the
200-meter backstroke event.

In the first semifinal heat, DeJong swam a strong race and
placed second behind swimming phenom Michael Phelps. In the final,
DeJong clocked a time of 1:59.00 — 1.20 seconds below the
Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard — finishing in
fourth-place as Aaron Peirsol shattered his own world-record with a
time of 1:54.74. Both Peirsol and Phelps will represent the U.S. in
the event at the Olympics.

Sophomore Davis Tarwater found himself in a similar position to
DeJong, as he finished seventh in the final of the 100-meter
butterfly. Tarwater wasn’t fast enough as Ian Crocker beat
Phelps and broke his own world-record in the event with a time of
50.76.

“(DeJong) swam extremely well,” outgoing Michigan
head coach Jon Urbanchek said. “He was extremely close to
making the team, but he got beat by two world-record holders. As
for (Tarwater) he did a great job as well. Any time you make the
finals at an event like this it is a very big
accomplishment.”

Current Club Wolverine member Klete Keller and former Wolverine
Chris Thompson failed to qualify in the 1,500-meter freestyle on
Wednesday, finishing in fourth and seventh, respectively. Sophomore
Peter Vanderkaay qualified for the event final as well but decided
to sit out the final race as he has already qualified in the
800-meter freestyle relay along with Keller and senior Dan
Ketchum.

The last two Wolverines to make the team were junior Andrew Hurd
and former Wolverine Tom Malchow. Hurd set a Canadian record in the
400-meter freestyle with a time of 3:49.67 and will also compete
against his Wolverine teammates in the 800-meter freestyle relay.
Malchow qualified for the team in the 200-meter butterfly,
finishing in second-place behind Phleps.

Despite ending the meet on a sour note, Urbanchek was very
pleased with the performance of his athletes at what was his last
meet as the head coach for Michigan.

“You’re only as good as your last
competition,” Urbanchek said. “To have five
(Wolverines) make it was awesome. It was about as good a result as
any school in the country put together.”

Urbanchek’s coaching days are not over yet, though. The
outgoing coach was chosen as an assistant coach for the U.S.
Olympic team, making it the sixth straight time that he has coached
in the games.

Urbancheck will join Bob Bowman — who will be taking over
the Michigan swim program this fall — as an assistant on the
U.S. Olympic coaching staff. Bowman currently coaches Michael
Phelps and is the head coach at the North Baltimore Aquatic
Club.

From the looks of it, Bowman should pick up right where
Urbanchek left off.

In addition to having returning Olympians in Vanderkaay and
Hurd, Bowman will also have six other swimmers on the squad that
competed in either the U.S. or Canadian Olympic Trials.

That bodes well for a team that finished fifth at the NCAA
Championships this past year.

“I’m leaving one hell of a team for the next
coach,” Urbanchek said. “It’s a lot better than
the one I got when I started 23 years ago. We have an awesome group
of young swimmers coming back, led by DeJong, Tarwater, and
Vanderkaay. Bob Bowman will inherit a team with Olympic caliber
talent and I wish him and Michigan the best.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.