By Dan D’Addona.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The format was unprecedented: A “tripleheader” of dual meets between two top-level opponents.
Best 2-out-of -3 wins, but the Michigan swimming and diving team swept Louisville in all three sessions in both the men’s and women’s meet.
But facing Louisville wasn’t the focus at this meet for the Wolverines. The focus was seeing how fast the team could deal with “sudden change.”
A roll of the dice decided the distances and strokes for each of the three sessions at Canham Natatorium. That means swimmers didn’t know until right before the session what events they would be in or how many events they would be in.
Not easy in a sport based on mental and physical preparation.
“It was so fun. There was a lot of energy. Three sessions is a lot, but we did a good job of staying loud and staying focused,” Michigan junior PJ Ransford said. “It was kind of strange that we didn’t know what the sessions were going to be. Not knowing made it fun and kept us on our toes.
“That is kind of the goal. Coach uses the words ‘sudden change’ a lot. Just being prepared to deal with anything really helps later in the season when things don’t go your way at a championship meet.”
The Wolverines cruised through the meet with the men winning 246.5-188.5 , 285-187 and 283-188.
Eight Michigan men claimed individual victories on Saturday in the final two sessions: junior Paul Powers in the 50-yard freestyle (20.00), freshman Felix Auböck in the 500-yard freestyle (4:24.66), Ransford in the 1,000-yard freestyle (9:10.40), freshman Jacob Montague in the 100-yard breaststroke (54.68), senior Vinny Tafuto in the 100-yard butterfly (48.55), senior Chris Klein in the 200-yard individual medley (1:49.95), freshman Charlie Swanson in the 400-yard IM (3:51.37) and sophomore Collin DeShaw in the 3-meter diving competition (346.42). The tandem of Jake Herremans and Allie Murphy added a win in mixed synchronized diving (241.80).
DeShaw surpassed his previous career best on the 3-meter board by nearly 50 points to secure his first career individual event win.
“I was in the zone and I was able to compete like I practiced,” DeShaw said.
In the women’s meet, the Wolverines won 257-179, 274-196 and 266-205.
“They were great. They stepped it up and got better in a lot of different areas,” Michigan coach Mike Bottom said. “The nice thing about doing this tripleheader is they have the opportunity to improve with each ‘game.’ By the end, you could see the team was together.”
Michigan sophomore Yirong Bi was the meet’s top performer, winning three individual events. She won the 500-yard freestyle (4:44.98), the 1,000-yard freestyle (9:43.82) and the 400-yard individual medley (4:19.66).
Sophomore Catie DeLoof won the 100-yard freestyle (49.32) and her older sister, junior Gabby DeLoof won the 100-yard backstroke (54.64).
Sophomore Siobhán Haughey cruised to a victory in the 200-yard IM (1:59.68), winning the event by almost four seconds. Freshman Vanessa Krause won the 100-yard butterfly (54.43). Freshman Kristen Hayden won the 1-meter diving event (241.80).
The Wolverines and Cardinals adapted to the format more and more with each session.
“You just have to deal with it,” Haughey said. “We always talk about ‘sudden change’ and in normal meets the coaches might switch your event. In this meet you don’t know, so the whole meet was a good chance at practicing this sudden change. Everyone was kind of nervous before the first session because we didn’t know what we were going to swim and how to warm up and everyone was kind of panicking, but it was obviously did pretty well. It was a good practice of sudden change and getting a bit uncomfortable and still executing in what you have to do.”