Natalie Schumann and Jessica Campbell are working together to collect information, videos, and put together recaps for this year’s Big Ten meet. This report was written by Natalie Schumann, a former high school swimmer and a journalism major at Indiana.
Various team cheers resounded throughout the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center at Indiana University. The time was 6:23 p.m., minutes before the scheduled 6:30 p.m. meet start, and the excitement and energy on deck was obvious. For some, this first night of the championship meant a light event schedule and an opportunity to get used to the facility. For the swimmers stretching behind the blocks, it meant starting off the biggest weekend of the season so far in the best way possible; very much an emotional leader as much as it is significant in team scoring.
200 Medley Relay
Michigan’s team of Miguel Ortiz, Bruno Ortiz, Sean Fletcher and Zach Turk dominated the field, finishing over a second and a half before second-place Ohio State. Their time of 1:23.25 broke the B1G and meet records set in 2009 by Minnesota. Both Turk for Michigan and Jason Schnur for Ohio State anchored their relays with a sub-19 freestyle split (Turk 18.77, Schnur 18.68).
All four of Michigan’s splits were blazing. Bruno Ortiz split 23.23 on the breaststroke leg; Sean Fletcher was a 19.75 on the fly leg, which is a split that we really only expected to see from Tom Shields at Cal this season. This, start-to-finish, was an amazing relay. That was a time that would’ve won NCAA’s last year, and is almost a second better than the time Auburn swam last week at SEC’s that was previously the best time in the country. It would be easy to say that Michigan was done and had burned their taper, but people were saying that when they broke the school record in the event a week ago, too.
Indiana finished third (1:25.15), followed by Penn State (1:25.38), Iowa (1:25.82), and Minnesota (1:26.41). In a race with a lot of really fast anchor splits, Derek Toomey led the way with an 18.39 for the Gophers.
800 Freestyle Relay
Within the first leg of the race, Michigan had already developed a significant lead. Even as they’ve found new speed under Bottom, they haven’t given much back on this 800 free relay: an event that they’ve been really good in for a really long time.
After the second leg, they led by over four seconds, and the gap just increased from there. Three of their four swimmers had splits under 1:34, and their second swimmer Michael Wynalda pulled out a blazing 1:32.30 that makes him an NCAA title contender. They finished with a B1G-record-breaking final time of 6:13.70, nearly six seconds ahead of second place Indiana (6:19.68).
After an exciting battle for second with Ohio State, Indiana claimed the runner-up spot after strong swims by Steve Schmuhl (1:34.02) and James Barbiere (1:34.39). Ohio was third, followed by Wisconsin (6:21.24), Minnesota (6:25.60), and Iowa (6:26.79).
Team Rankings Through Session 1:
As we always say after day one of these meets, nobody is sunk by the results (unless they DQ, really). But with Michigan swimming so well, it is probably already a battle for 2nd between Ohio State and Indiana. The only thing that would cost Michigan this title is if they weren’t swimming well, and Mike Bottom is clearly not going to let that happen.
1. University of Michigan 80
2. Ohio State University 66
2. Indiana University 66
4. University of Iowa 54
4. Minnesota 54
6. Pennsylvania State University 52
7. University of Wisconsin 48
8. Purdue University 40
9. Northwestern University 38
9. Michigan State University 38