The No. 23 Michigan women’s swimming and diving team closed out its meet Sunday with the fastest 400-yard freestyle relay time (3:18.30) in the NCAA this year by 0.01 seconds. 

However, the final victory was not enough to make up the difference, as No. 4 Virginia (3-0) took a close win this past Sunday at Canham Natatorium, 188-165. The Wolverines (3-0 Big Ten, 3-1 overall) did split the meet, though, as they defeated No. 20 Penn State (0-1, 4-2), 226-127.

Though Michigan did not claim an overall first-place finish, the Wolverines collected nine NCAA “B” times this past weekend, helping them to qualify for the NCAA Championship. Top performers from the meet included sophomore Clara Smiddy, who had two top-three finishes, placing second in the 200-yard backstroke and third in the 200-yard individual medley. Junior diver Keegan McCaffrey earned an NCAA Zone Diving qualifying score on her one-meter dive.

Senior captain Ali DeLoof won the 50-yard freestyle (22.64) and the 100-yard backstroke (52.95) where she picked up ‘B’ cuts in both events. In the backstroke, DeLoof out-touched last year’s NCAA runner-up and longtime competitor Courtney Bartholomew of Virginia.

“I out-touched her by four hundredths of a second, which was really cool because I’ve been racing against her my whole life  she’s from Michigan,” DeLoof said.

She also commented on the Wolverines goals this season.

“We don’t have that many dual meets, but we are excited to see where we are at, at winter nationals in December, and also just getting back in the water, working hard again,” DeLoof said. “Also we want to work more on details: stroke details, for our starts and our turns, and just to stay motivated each and every day.” 

Another top finisher was freshman Siobhán Haughey, who clocked a pair of NCAA-best times, winning both the 100-yard freestyle and the 200-yard individual medley on her birthday Saturday, and the next day going on to win the 200-yard freestyle. Haughey confessed that her team’s sense of camaraderie contributed to her performance.

“The majority of my races I was in lane two,” Haughey said. “So every time I turned my head, I could see the team cheering for me, and it really motivates me to swim faster. I love having people cheer for me and cheering for the team.”

Overall, the Wolverines are planning to take things step by step, aiming to improve day by day and week by week. Their eyes are currently set on Big Ten Championships, which will be in home territory this year.

“I think that goals are set where you are,” said Michigan coach Mike Bottom. “I think this was a great meet to find out where we are.” 

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