On Oct. 19, the Michigan women”s swimming team embarked on a four month road trip.

Tonight, after competing in six different states, three different time zones, against teams from five different conferences and traveling 15,251 miles, the Wolverines will make their return home from a journey that would make George Bailey jealous.

For the first time since last January, Michigan will be hosting a dual meet when it takes on No. 18 Penn State in Canham Natatorium.

“We”re all excited to be back competing in our own pool,” sophomore Annie Weilbacher said. “We”ve spent a lot of time together on the road interacting with each other. Now that we”re home, I don”t think we”ll stop being that way, but we”re definitely ready to be home.”

In fact, the 17th-ranked Wolverines (0-3) won”t have to leave the state at all these next two months, as their only road trip is at Michigan State tomorrow. The Big Ten Championships at the end of February will be in Ann Arbor.

The buildup to those championships begins tonight, as Michigan will face last year”s Big Ten runner-up Penn State.

“Penn State is a great team, and they represent a great challenge for us,” Michigan coach Jim Richardson said. “It shapes up to be the kind of meet that could be very close if we swim well. We can”t have a letdown anywhere.”

Fatigue may be a factor this weekend, with the team still recovering from a training trip to Hawaii over winter break.

“I think it”s better we had the week off (after Hawaii) before we competed, because we were pretty beat up coming out of there,” Richardson said. “I don”t think I”ve had a team that was more fatigued coming back, but I think that”s due to the way they trained.”

Fatigued is an understatement when looking at Michigan”s training schedule in Hawaii: Voluntary morning runs for an hour, surfing for an hour, team workouts for three hours, abdominal workouts in the evening for an hour and then two more hours in the pool to finish the night.

Those who think surfing was the easy part of the day should realize that a person has to swim themselves out very far before they can surf back in.

“You need to have strong shoulders, arms and a strong back or you shouldn”t be surfing,” Richardson said.

And after all the team has endured for the past few weeks, having an actual meet would seem like a break for Michigan. But this isn”t the case.

Not only do the Wolverines have to go all out against Penn State, but Richardson also wants them to perform just as well or better against Michigan State and Ohio State on no rest.

“The challenge is going to be to get up to Michigan State, swim in someone else”s pool and see if we can duplicate our performances,” Richardson said. “That will let us know about our ability to be consistent in a two day format, which leads toward the three day format of the Big Ten.”

With the two challenges in front of them, the Wolverines, like they have all season, will go into this weekend with only success on their minds.

“It”s always hard to come back the second day (and compete), but we have to get used to that,” Weilbacher said. “It”s going to be hard because we”re all tired, but if everyone swims like they want to, it will be a close meet.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.