500 yard freestyle
The Michigan men got their first huge, individual, dividend from their massive freshman class when former Open Water World Championship qualifier Sean Ryan took the 500 free title. His mark of 4:17.91 ranks in the top 10 in the country this season. Not only is this freshman class fast, they are incredibly poised. Much like Kyle Whitaker on the anchor of Michigan’s winning 800 free relay yesterday, Ryan hung well-back in second until the final 100 yards of this race. At that point Ryan, who has awesome endurance as a former open water swimmer, flipped into a new gear and closed in an incredible 50.0 split. As a comparison, this would’ve been the fastest closing 100 in this event at last year’s NCAA Championships, and was even faster than Florida’s Conor Dwyer closed his SEC Record 4:11 in last week. Good luck trying to beat this kid in the mile on Saturday.
The man who he passed is Michigan senior Dane Vanderkaay. He hasn’t had a great season thus far, but with how Michigan has been swimming this meet, you had to know that a Vanderkaay brother (which is pretty much synonymous with Michigan) would have to get in on the fun. He swam a 4:18.53 (his best time this year prior to today was a 4:31) to take the silver. A 4:19.78 from sophomore Ryan Feeley completed a 1-2-3 finish for Michigan. Indiana had a strong showing with 4th from Ryan Hinshaw (4:19.81) and 5th from Jimmy Barbiere (4:19.95). The Hoosiers have had an excellent showing thus far, and look as though they will remain in contention for a top-3 team finish for the duration.
200 yard IM
Two individual events down, and two individual event wins for Michigan freshmen. This time it was Whitaker who took top honors in a 1:43.23, which will hold at least through this week as the top time in the country. This is a career-best swim for him: his first since breaking the National High School Record last year in Indiana. He really won this race on the butterfly leg, where he pulled away from even 200-fly favorite Daniel Madwed.
Madwed held on for second in 1:44.41, which is a career best time. This is a new event for the senior, and he seems to be have really hit a groove in it despite his relative inexperience at racing it. Eric Ress from Indiana, who had the best closing speed in the field, continued to impress by taking third in 1:44.58.
50 yard freestyle
This race was the first of the meet where Michigan really did not have a contender to take the event title. This is not to say that they don’t have good sprinters, but there was really only one contender here: Minnesota’s Michael Richards. Not many have heard about Richards, but his 19.19 in finals cleared the field by over half-a-second and sits behind only the incredible Nathan Adrian (19.00) and Adam Brown (19.05) for the fastest in the nation this season. Richards announced to the country today that he was in the mix for the best sprinter in the nation. To prove that it wasn’t a fluke, he was even faster in prelims: a 19.10 that made him the fastest 50 freestyler in the epic history of the Big Ten.
Iowa coach Marc Long has really made great use of the Hawkeyes’ brand new facility, which is amongst the best in the country, and saw his first big dividends in this race. Junior Ryan Phelan finished second in a career-best time of 19.75, to just outtouch Ohio State’s Jason Schnur (19.81). This final swim moved Phelan up the rankings big-time from where he place in prelims, and should be just enough to get him to NCAA’s. This would be their first NCAA qualifier since 2007.
Purdue’s David Boudia was easiest the best collegiate diver in the country last season. This year, he looks like he’s going to blow by even his own high standards after his incredible performance on the 1-meter. His score of 467.40 was his highest collegiate total by 20 points, and as a result shattered the Big Ten record. Indiana’s Zachary Nees won an incredibly tight battle for second place that came down to just tenths. He bested Ohio State freshman Shane Miszkiel by a score of 375.6-375.2, and Michigan State’s Ivan Zalessov was just back in fourth at 372.25. In all fairness, compared to the awesomeness of Boudia, the other competitors scores were probably depressed a little, but these are still impressive marks none-the-less.
400 yard medley relay
Another relay, another victory for Michigan. Daniel Madwed had his third great swim in as many races when he split a 45.51 on the fly leg to get Michigan back into a race that otherwise appeared to be slipping away, and set up Miguel Ortiz for a great 43.11 anchor leg to carry Michigan to a victory in 3:09.23. Ohio State also swam very well in this race to touch second in 3:09.52, as both teams now sit well within the country’s top 10. The Buckeyes have decided that Tim Phillips, who is a Pan-Pac qualifier in the butterflys is better served on the freestyle leg with Quincy Lee swimming fly. Despite the loss in an event that they were probably favored in, this seems to be a winning strategy for Bill Wadley, as Lee split a 46.0 and Phillips a 43.4.
But neither one of these swims had the most impressive swim of this race. Not even close. That honor went to Eric Ress, a French National Teamer, who put up an absolutely, incredibly, (insert more hyperbole here) jaw-dropping mark of 45.40 in the 100 back. This is the best time in the nation by two tenths. It will be interesting to see how Arizona’s Cory Chitwood and Cal’s Guy Barnea respond at Pac-10’s next week. Indiana’s medley relay is a future National Championship contender. Ress, as a redshirt sophomore, was the eldest on the third-place team (3:10.07) that featured three freshman.
Michigan is in the lead in this meet, but not by nearly as much as you might expect given that they’ve won 5 of the meet’s 7 events, and have shown some depth as well. It’s not defending champions Ohio State that are pushing them, however, it’s the Indiana Hoosiers. They have combined expected performances from their divers (+60 points versus the Wolverines on the 1-meter) with unexpected over-performance from their swimmers, to make this an extremely tight meet.
Ohio State has had some good overall performances, but have struggled with depth to maintain contact with the top two. The 100-yard races tomorrow are their bread-and-butter, however, and they have a good chance of getting back into this meet.
1. Michigan 259.5
2. Indiana 251
3. Ohio State 183
4. Minnesota 159.5
5. Purdue 125.5
6. Penn State 102
7. Wisconsin 94
8. Iowa 87.5
9. Northwestern 86
10. Michigan State 76