On Friday night, the Michigan women’s swimming and diving
team’s head-to-head battle with No. 16 Florida State came
down to the final race: the 200-yard freestyle relay.

Janna Hutz
In the final race against Florida State on Friday, freshman Kaitlyn Brady grabbed an early lead for the Michigan 200-yard freestyle relay team. The Wolverines held on to win the race, by just a second, and the meet. (TONY DING/Daily)

As the four-woman team of Kaitlyn Brady, Lindsey Smith, Tracy
Egnatuk, and Abby Seskevics headed toward the starting block, the
Wolverines had a slight advantage in the overall match.

Brady entered the water first and grabbed the lead, which the
Wolverines were able to maintain until the very end, as they posted
a winning time of 1:34.57, barely one second ahead of the
competition.

The victory proved that the Wolverines (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were
on top of their game, as they earned a pair of wins and defeated
Florida State 146-136 and trounced Michigan State 194-88 in a
double dual meet at Canham Natatorium.

The win against Florida State was a huge accomplishment for the
Wolverines. The Seminoles are considered one of the fastest
in-season teams in the country.

“Everybody thinks about it coming down to the last relay,
but if other people ahead don’t do the things they need to
do, then it doesn’t matter how fast you swim in the last
race,” Michigan head coach Jim Richardson said.

Numerous Wolverines set the table beforehand, as their
individual wins put the team in a position to win.

Freshman Susan Gilliam won three of those individual events, as
she wiped the board in the 1,000-, 500- and 200-yard freestyle.
Early in the meet, Gilliam posted the top time in the 1,000
freestyle that bettered the field by nearly seven seconds. About
four minutes later, Gilliam was back in action, grabbing the win in
the 200 freestyle event. Back-to-back events can be draining on a
swimmer, but Gilliam stayed strong.

“I’m an instant swimmer, and I have a lot of
endurance so it doesn’t affect me,” Gilliam said.
“I know that we need the points for the team, so that
motivates me to try.”

Anne Weilbacher was another workhorse for the Wolverines, as she
earned two straight wins for her team. After her first-place finish
in the 100-yard butterfly, she returned 10 minutes later to win the
200 individual medley with a time of 2:04.14, breaking the NCAA B
standard of 2:04.29. Along with Gilliam, Weilbacher proved that she
could finish strong after a short break.

“My coaches told us both that they needed wins from the
doubling up in events in order for us to win the meet,”
Weilbacher said.

“It was just a matter of putting aside the way that your
body feels and getting your hand on the wall ahead of everyone
else. And that is what we tried to do the whole evening.”

The Wolverines showed they could swim faster than the
competition all day Friday, but Saturday morning in an exhibition
relay meet against Florida State, the Wolverines lost their
energy.

They earned just one relay title, in the 500-yard crescendo
relay, as the Seminoles posted a 103-47 victory over the
Wolverines.

Despite the loss on Saturday, the coaches and swimmers were
pleased with their progress and performance over the weekend. High
energy and determination allowed the Wolverines pull through.

“The team did a great job of staying focused and keeping
our energy high throughout the whole meet,” Weilbacher
said.

“Even when we were behind during the meet, we didn’t
give up and kept fighting for every point we could get. That shows
a lot about our team’s character.”

 

 

 

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