ANN ARBOR, Michigan, February 27. AFTER an NCAA and U.S. Open record last night in the 800 freestyle relay at the Big 10 men’s swimming and diving championships, the Michigan Wolverines kept the heat burning tonight in their home pool.
Michigan continued to put itself in good position to defend its NCAA team title with dominant distance freestyle swimming and a lifetime best by senior Kyle Whitaker in the 200 IM. The only event Michigan could not win was the 50 free, which featured the first sub-19 second swim in the history of the meet.
The session started with a 1-2-3 finish by Michigan in the 500 freestyle, one of the Wolverines’ strongest events. Jaeger took the lead at the 100-yard mark and never let last night’s 800 free relay star Michael Wynalda overtake him. Jaeger’s time of 4:12.52 was about a second faster than he swam last year to win the conference title, and just missed Peter Vanderkaay’s meet record by .15 seconds. Wynalda placed second with a lifetime best 4:13.91, beating his previous best by nearly three seconds. In third was Anders Nielsen with a 4:14.66, just a half second off his lifetime best. All three posted automatic qualifying times for the NCAA meet.
Kyle Whitaker went after Cody Miller’s meet record of 1:41.85 in the 200 IM in prelims this morning, posting a 1:41.14 to set a new lifetime best by 1.5 seconds. Whitaker, who was seventh in this event at last year’s NCAA championships with a 1:43.26, won in finals with a 1:41.30. Teammate Dylan Bosch made the race a nailbiter – at least in determining which Wolverine would win – with a 1:41.66 for second. Whitaker only outsplit Bosch in the butterfly and breaststroke legs, with a stunning 28.53 in breaststroke to help seal the win. Indiana performed well in the final, placing third through fifth. Stephen Schmuhl took third with a 1:42.05, Eric Ress was fourth with a 1:42.95 and Cody Miller took fifth in 1:43.74. The top four places automatically qualified for the NCAA championships in the event.
Minnesota’s Derek Toomey posted a lifetime best of 19.05 in prelims of the 50 free this morning, tying the meet record set in 2011 by teammate Michael Richards. Toomey was unable to become the first sub-19 second swimmer in the meet’s history, winning the event with a 19.14. Toomey, who was third in the 50 at last season’s NCAAs with a 19.18, stands third in the national collegiate standings, just one hundredth behind Marcelo Chierighini with Florida’s Brad deBorde still the only one under 19 seconds with an 18.88. Placing third at Big 10s tonight was Penn State’s Shane Ryan with a 19.36, while Michigan’s Bruno Ortiz was third with a 19.46. It’s a lifetime best for Ryan, but just six hundredths off automatic qualification for the NCAA championships.
The 1-meter diving final was likely the closest battle for first place in the meet’s history, as Indiana’s Darian Schmidt, a recent guest on SwimmingWorld.TV’s “Morning Swim Show,” beat Purdue’s Jamie Bissett by just .15 points, 381.30 to 381.15. Also in the running was Ohio State’s Stephen Etienne, who placed third with 374.95.
Michigan held off Ohio State in the final event of the night, the 400 medley relay, as the Wolverines posted a 3:06.08 to Ohio’ State’s 3:06.63. Notably, the Buckeyes did not use their star butterflyer, Tim Phillips, who would have likely swum faster than Matt McHugh’s 45.04. Michigan’s won just missed the meet record of 3:05.42 posted last year by the Wolverines. The top five teams all qualified their schools for the relay at NCAAs, with Indiana (3:07.98), Penn State (3:08.01) and Wisconsin (3:09.76) placing third through fifth.
Thanks to six swimmers in the top 16 in the 500 free and wins in three of the five events, Michigan leads with 308 points to Indiana’s 216. Ohio State and Penn State appear to be in a battle for third, with the Buckeyes collecting 158 points to the Nittany Lions’ 154.