In a thrilling opening meet against Wisconsin on Friday morning, the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team beat Big Ten rival Wisconsin 157-143 at Canham Natatorium.

Michigan holds an all-time record of 19-3 against Wisconsin, but coming into the weekend, the Wolverines were looking to break an opening-meet losing streak. The program’s last opening-meet victory came in 2009 against Notre Dame.

Michigan returns 26 swimmers and divers this season, which includes a 10-person senior class, and it also brought in 10 freshmen to complement the roster.

Junior Angela Chokran, who finished first in both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke and took second-place as part of the 200-yard medley relay team, was coming off of a strong showing at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. this summer.

“With Michigan, there isn’t that much of a difference,” said Chokran. “The tradition here is to swim collegiately as a team, and then as a team go to the Olympics and get as many into a final or on the Olympic team as possible. So the tradition is to swim our hardest everyday, whether we are at the biggest meet of our lives, which could be the Olympic Trials or the Big Ten championships.”

The Wolverines’ coaching structure also changed this season. Instead of having separate coaches for the women’s and men’s teams, Mike Bottom — who has been the coach for the men’s team for the last four years — now oversees the entire program.

“It is so exciting,” Bottom said. “I was talking to them over in the huddle, and it hit me that they’re puppies, they’re just puppies. They’re bouncing around with a lot of energy and they don’t really understand their potential. And what a great place to be in.

“I am in the position to hold the mirror out to someone as they grow up and as they get to be mature and learn to swim with power and strength and these girls are there. They’re ready.”

In a decisive move during the 200-yard individual medley, Bottom put senior Melissa Lang in the race because she was “having an amazing meet.” That substitution helped Michigan sweep the race by taking first, second, third, and fifth place, and also allowed the Wolverines to secure the overall victory.

Junior Courtney Biedler, who took first place in the 200-yard individual medley, was ecstatic after the competition.

“Right before I got up on the blocks, one of our captains (senior) Kally (Fayhee), looked at me and pointed up to the scoreboard and I already knew that we were one point down,” Biedler said. “But I knew the team really needed it so I was ready to go for it for the team. I knew I could not let them down.”

The Wolverines are back in action next weekend on Friday and Saturday at Canham Natatroium against Minnesota in the first-ever Michigan Water Carnival.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.