Sierra Schmidt Nails 15:53 in 1650 as Michigan Women Beat Michigan State in Emotional Final Matchup

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Sierra Schmidt Nails 15:53 in 1650 as Michigan Women Beat Michigan State in Emotional Final Matchup

The No. 5-ranked University of Michigan women’s swimming and diving program won 14 of 15 events to post dual wins over Michigan State (146-107) and Rutgers (153-38) on Saturday (Jan. 23) at Canham Natatorium.


“This was a fun meet,” said head coach Mike Bottom. “It was fun seeing the entire team cheer and push Sierra forward during the mile. It was fun seeing Victoria swim a 400 IM that’ll likely get her invited to NCAAs. And it was fun seeing swimmers find success in events that may not be their strength. There were a lot of great swims today, and the best part is, we’re continuing to improve.”

The Wolverines kicked off the meet with a commanding win in the 400-yard medley relay (3:40.67). Junior Maggie MacNeil, less than 24 hours removed from learning she had been named to the Canadian Olympic Team, led off in 52.75, while junior Olivia Carter added a solid 52.96 split on the butterfly leg. MacNeil was one of two double victors on Saturday, showing easy speed to win the 50-yard freestyle (22.30) and 100-yard freestyle (50.12).

The other was freshman Sophie Housey, who built on the strong start to her rookie season. She took the 200-yard butterfly out fast and held onto that speed to win by nearly six seconds (1:58.94). Later in the 500-yard freestyle, just .05 seconds separated her from teammate Sophia Kudryashova with 100 yards to go, but Housey turned on the jets and pulled away to take the win (4:55.59).

Senior Sierra Schmidt swam the 1,650-yard freestyle during the second break, posting the No. 1 time in the country so far this season (15:53.52). She also established a new Canham Natatorium record in the 1,000-yard freestyle during the race (9:35.49), breaking the old record of 9:36.87, which had been held by Minnesota’s Ashley Steenvorden since 2009.

Other winners included sophomore Megan Glass in the 200-yard freestyle (1:51.73), freshman Noelle Kaufmann in the 100-yard backstroke (56.74), Carter in the 200-yard backstroke (1:59.49), sophomore Mariella Venter in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:19.28), senior Daria Pyshnenko in the 100-yard butterfly (55.19) and junior Victoria Kwan in the 400-yard IM (4:12.73).

Michigan showed its depth on the diving boards on Saturday. Junior Allie Klein (352.70), senior Nikki Canale (311.55) and freshman Lauren Cheetham (291.65) went 1-2-3 on three-meter, while Canale (321.80), Klein (307.95) and senior Christy Cutshaw (289.80) went 1-3-4 on one-meter.

Michigan ended the meet with a win in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:32.19). MacNeil split 22.20 on the leadoff leg.

Michigan State Release

“As I said last night after our men competed, I’m just really proud of our athletes,” said head coach Matt Gianiodis. “There’s been a lot of starts and stops and practice interruptions, and through all of that I think our athletes have done a great job of staying focused on their process. We now have a couple of weeks to get better before we race at Penn State, and hopefully the road is a little smoother and we can focus on progress.”

Two seniors led the way – diver Amanda Ling made the “A” cut on the 1m board, scoring a 308.0 and taking second place. Meanwhile, Erin Szara posted a commanding victory in the 100 breast, clocked in a time of 1:01.67; she was nearly four seconds faster than the second-place finisher which was also a provisional cut for the NCAA Championship meet. She also placed second in the 200 breast (2:20.63).

Some talented freshman were making their collegiate debuts. Allison Haak finished second in the 100 back (59.13), and classmate Julia Coffman was third in 59.81. Coffman was second later in the meet in the 200 back, clocked in a time of 2:11.39. Sheridan Phalen led the MSU pack in the 50 free with a second-place finish (23.99), and then took fourth in the 100 free (54.57).

Behind Erin Szara in the 100 breast, three MSU freshmen went 3-4-5, (Olivia Starzomski (1:07.98), Lindsey Witte (1:08.76) and Riley Szara (1:09.07) . Starzomski was also fourth in the 200 breast and Riley Szara fifth. Witte took third in the 400 IM (4:36.31) behind sophomore Sydney Kelly (4:30.72)

Abbey Neveling was third in the 50 free (24.04) and 200 breast (2:20.96)

Olivia Chick was second in the 100 free (53:01) and then took third in the 200 free (1:56.39) in addition to her second-place finish in the 400 medley relay. Sophia Balow was in fourth in that event with a time of 1:58.91, and was also third in the 500 free (5:15.14).

In the 200 fly, MSU took spots 2-4. Rachel Aycock was MSU’s top finisher (1:06.15), followed by Marie Dickson, and Ava Boutrous. Aycock also took second in the 500 free (5:12.14)

In the relay events, MSU took second in the 400 medley relay, touching the pad in 3:51.04. (Coffman, Erin Szara, Boutrous, and Chick.) In the 200 free relay, the Spartan “A” (Phelan, Chick, Neveling, and Haak) and “B” (Taylor Arnold, Aycock, Taylor Contino, and Erin Szara) entries took second and third. The A relay touched the pad in 1:36.04, and the B in 1:39.07.