For the No. 3 Michigan women’s swimming and diving team, this weekend’s meet at No. 17 Minnesota resulted in victories over the Golden Gophers (225-128), No. 18 Wisconsin (235-118) and Penn State (284.5-68.5).
Perhaps more important than wins over two ranked rivals, however, were the ties — both the one in the meet and the figurative ones that have held the team together so far.
Sisters Gabby and Claire DeLoof — a senior and junior, respectively — found success in Minneapolis. The duo guided the 200-yard freestyle relay team to a win to open the meet and took the top two spots in the 100-yard freestyle. Interestingly enough, the two sisters also tied in the 50-yard freestyle with a 23.26 finish.
“It’s just so fun racing my sister,” Gabby DeLoof said. “Obviously there’s friendly competition, but (at) the end of the day, whoever wins —or ties like we did today — it’s all in good fun and we’re really happy for each other. It’s really fun when I race my sister because I can go that much faster against her.”
While the sisters are fierce competitors in the water, coach Mike Bottom said that the two, along with their other sister Jackie, a sophomore on the team, were “the first to be laughing and joking with everyone around, including themselves.”
As the sisters have established themselves as leaders on the team, Bottom praised Michigan for its hard work and its togetherness this past weekend.
“What stands out about this team, and I told them this today, is that this meet is what I would consider the most successful combined swimming and diving meet that I have ever been a part of in season,” Bottom said. “It was the most successful because of the support that they gave each other, because of the way the divers and swimmers interacted, worked together to reach for (wins) today and yesterday.”
Rose Bi flexed her muscles at the meet as well. The junior dominated her races, winning the 500-yard freestyle by four seconds and notching wins in both the 400-yard individual medley and 1,000-yard freestyles by over five seconds.
“We’re excited to have (Bi) performing well today and yesterday,” Bottom said. “She’s a leader on the team, and we are excited to see what she is going to do in the future.”
The entire team will travel to Georgia for a fall invitational in December, where it will face two fellow top-10 opponents in the Bulldogs and UC-Berkeley. If the season so far is any indicator, Michigan definitely has both the right mindset and camaraderie leading up to another matchup against elite schools.
"I think that this team is really unique," Gabby DeLoof said. "And there’s a lot of hard work and a good work ethic that is really bringing everyone together.”