For three straight years, the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team has ended the regular season with a three-meet winning streak.
The last two years, the Wolverines also finished second at the Big Ten Championships.
And they’re well on their way to doing that again.
The Wolverines won five of the last six events on Saturday to sink the Fighting Irish 141-102.
Senior Hannah Smith had a performance to remember in her last regular-season meet, winning the 200-yard freestyle (1:48.71) and 100-yard freestyle (50.27).
“It was Senior Day, so that was in the back of my mind a little bit,” Smith said. “Try to go out with a bang. I was pretty happy with how I swam, especially with Big Tens in a couple weeks in this building.”
Michigan coach Jim Richardson was very pleased with the strong performances by the team’s four seniors, especially Smith.
“I think it was important for them,” Richardson said. “I know it was for Hannah Smith. She swam lights out today. Anytime you’re here for four years and it’s the last one of something, you’re thinking about it a little bit more. I think all of our seniors did a real nice job.”
With Michigan trailing the Irish 59-53 halfway through the meet, the Wolverines took over. Freshman Caitlin Dauw won 100-yard butterfly (55.57) to give Michigan the lead for good.
Fifth-year senior Caroline Rodriguez extended the lead and earned her first victory of the season in the 100-yard backstroke (56.64).
“Caroline has a lot of ability,” Richardson said. “If she can ever learn to harness that energy and distribute it properly throughout a race, she is going to be scary. We are very fortunate to have her with us now.”
The Wolverines are swimming faster after fully recovering from a training camp a month ago and using strong finishes to overpower the competition.
“Coming out of the training trip, we were a little tired, so every week we have been getting a little bit more rest, and at the meets, we build upon that,” Johnson said. “Our energy is higher, our strokes are getting better technically as we get stronger, and our moods are better.”
The diving events helped build an insurmountable lead. Freshman Amanda Lohman registered career bests, finishing second in the three-meter (298.35) and third in the one-meter (291.60). Junior Stephanie O’Callaghan also had a strong performance with a second-place finish in the one-meter (293.03) and a third-place finish in the three-meter (289.50).
Michigan will now welcome a much needed-rest as they prepare to host the Big Ten Championships Feb. 18 – 21, where No. 10 Minnesota will be favored.
“Some people I thought would be a little faster, and when I looked up and saw Hannah’s time in the 100, I thought, ‘Where did that come from?’ “Richardson said. “I’m not concerned. We’ve done the work.”