The Michigan Wolverines were on a mission in this meet. After losing the conference title last season for the first time in 3 years, they never trailed in this meet. But for many of Michigan’s biggest scorers, they could only remember their upset vicariously through their older teammates. For double winners Kyle Whitaker (200, 400 IM) and Sean Ryan (500, 1650 freestyle), this was all fresh and new. But then there were the older swimmers who not only provided great leadership, but performed beyond expectations. Swimmers like junior Dan Madwed, who had the best meet of his stellar career.
And how about the impressiveness of coach Mike Bottom and the job he did. This season, he not only had to deal with making sure his swimmers were prepared to win a Conference Championship, he had to deal with making sure that about half of his roster knew how to get to the pool.
But despite Michigan’s perceived dominance in the pool, this meet was by no-means a runaway. Runners-up Indiana also relied very heavily on their freshmen, like freshman breaststroker Corey Miller, who was a double-champion in the 100 and the 200. Thanks to these great young performances, along with some outstanding depth in diving, the Hoosiers never really lost contact with the Wolverines. They kept the score under 100 points in a meet that otherwise seemed to be dominated by the Wolverines.
And then there were the defending champions Ohio State. They knew they lost a ton off of their roster from last season, but they probably had hoped that they would be more competitive. They finally began having some good performances on the final day, including a win in the 200 back from Andrew Elliott, a 200 fly school record from Quincy Lee, and their first 400 free relay win at this meet since 1970. Many Buckeyes failed to even perform season-best times. But this gives hope that the Buckeyes have their eyes set on huge NCAA performances, where they still have to be considered amongst the contenders for top-5 medley relay finishes.
Minnesota proved the depth in their sprint group (despite not winning a 400 free relay that they should’ve been easily the fastest team in). Michael Richards was the showstopper, after winning both sprint freestyle events.
The rest of the teams all had notable performances. David Boudia dominated the boards for Purdue. Michigan State seemed to get a school record just about every time they hit the water. Iowa is going to be on the edge of their seats in a few weeks, as Paul Gordon, Ryan Phelan, and a few of their relays anxiously await the program’s first NCAA berths in four years.
Penn State has to be excited about the performances of junior Scott Marino, who hung tough to two third-place performances in the IM races. Northwestern also has to be psyched about Alex Tyler, who swam very well in his last Big Ten meet for a runner-up finish in the 400 IM. And Wisconsin’s Daniel Lester was about as good as advertised, with a third-place mark of 46.46 in the 100 fly.
1. University of Michigan 678
2. Indiana University 604
3. Ohio State University 593
4. University of Minnesota 505.5
5. Purdue University 343.5
6. Pennsylvania State University 250.5
7. University of Iowa 228.5
8. University of Wisconsin 224
9. Northwestern University 212.5
10. Michigan State University 180.5
Conference and Championship Records
50 free-Michael Richards, Sr., Minnesota-19.05-Conference and Championship Record (old record of 19.34 set by Purdue’s Andrew Langenfeld in 2009, Richards broke record multiple times in meet)
1-meter diving-Daivd Boudia, Sr., Purdue-467.40-Conference and Championship Record (old record of 446.65 set by Boudia in 2009)
100 back-Eric Ress, Soph., Indiana-45.11-Championship Record (old record of 45.52 set by Indiana’s Ben Hansen in 2007, Ress broke record multiple times in meet)
200 free relay-Minnesota-1:16.78-Championship Record (old record of 1:17.21 set by Norhtwestern in 2007)
200 fly-Daniel Madwed-1:41.70-Conference and Championship Record (old record of 1:42.11 set by Madwed in 2010)
Platform diving-David Boudia, Sr., Purdue-557.90-Conference and Championship Record (old record of 533.60 set by Boudia in 2009)
3-meter diving-David Boudia, Sr., Purdue-509.90-Conference and Championship Reocrd (old record of 489.90 set by Boudia in 2009)
Races You Need to Know About It
-In the men’s 50 free, Michael Richards won in 19.19. In prelims, he put up an even faster 19.10, and to lead off Minnesota’s 200 free relay, he swam a 19.05. This ties him with Auburn’s Adam Brown as the second-fastest time in the country (though several swimmers could challenge that standing at next week’s Pac-10 Championships). Richards isn’t on enough peoples’ radars this year, but he certainly has the pedigree to compete with the big dogs like Nathan Adrian as the former 50 free Junior National Champion. There are only a small handful of swimmers that appear to have the potential to get below 18.7 this year. Among them are Adrian and Texas’ Jimmy Feigen. But Richards, who is at the age when most men’s sprinters really start to blossom, has a chance to be up there with those guys if he can find another three-tenths from somewhere. Things that will be said about him over the next few weeks are going to be very reminiscent of those that were said about last year’s NCAA champ Josh Schneider, and Richards has the home-pool advantage. He’s a definite candidate for “darkhorse” honors.
-In the men’s 400 IM, Kyle Whitaker pronounced his presence with authority by taking a 6-second win in 3:41.06. He’s not going to be Florida’s Conor Dwyer this season if Dwyer swims it, but he will be in a tight battle with the likes of Texas’ Austin Surhoff and North Carolina’s William Harris for runner-up. Up until this meet, many people had questioned whether or not Whitaker could match the same “best-ever” type of level that he was at in high school. But there’s now no question that his flame is burning as brightly as ever
-In the men’s 200 fly, Daniel Madwed threw down a career-best 1:41.70. That was the best time ever swum by a Big Ten swimmer, and will have him psyched to challenge Georgia’s Mark Dylla and Cal’s Tom Shields for the National Championship. He swam this race perfectly, and like we saw so many times out of the Wolverines, hung back until the last 50 to blast to a lead.
-In the men’s 100 back, Eric Ress put up one of the best times we’ve seen over the last couple of years with a winning mark of 45.11. By the end of this race, he had broken the Championship Record twice, finished so hard that he may have broken his hand, and was ready to be considered a National Championship contender. As one of our readers pointed out, he has really had to step up his game internationally to compete with his native French backstroke group that is now arguably the best in the world. Really, we should have seen this coming after he redshirted the 2009-2010 season to train for the French team. If he continues to work and drop, with two more seasons to go we could be talking about him as one of the best NCAA backstrokers ever.
Swimmer of the Championship–Daniel Madwed, Jr., Michigan– This was a really tough award to give out. Kyle Whitaker won two events, and finished second to Madwed in the 200 fly. Madwed won two events, and finished second to Whitaker in the 200 IM. Richards won his only two individuals, including a record-curshing 50 free. Indiana’s Cody Miller won both breaststrokes, and his teammate Eric Ress probably would’ve won this award had it not been for a broken hand on day 3. Michigan’s Sean Ryan won a distance double, which is something that is almost unheard of for a freshman. But Madwed gets the award for his leadership. He got stronger as the meet went on, and surely egged on the young Wolverine freshman to their numerous great performances.
Hononrable Mention: Michael Richards, Minnesota
Coach of the Championship–Mike Bottom, Michigan-Let’s be honest. Coming into this meet, many Michigan fans were probably beginning to show concerns about the future of the program. The comments were flying that Michigan was losing its status as an elite NCAA team. But Bottom ignored the critics, knowing that he had a plan. Given the youth of his team, Michigan had about as perfect of a meet as one can have. Nearly every swimmer on the team had a lifetime best, and not just the big names. He improved this roster from top to bottom, including swimmers like Ryutaro Kamiya, who went a lifetime best in the 500 by an astonishing 17 seconds. Not only was this a perfect season, but Michigan had many perfect races. Despite all the doubts flying around, he was able to get his young team to trust in him enough to lurk back in their races, and pick the final moment to break out and explode past their competition. All around, maybe one of the most impressive coaching jobs in the history of college swimming
Honorable Mention: Ray Looze, Indiana
Freshman of the Championship–Kyle Whitaker, Fr., Michigan-There were so many incredible candidates for this award. Three different freshman (Whitaker, Miller, and Ryan) won multiple events. But Whitaker’s versatility, along with his fabulous come-from-behind swim on the 800 free relay, wins this award for him. Michigan was hurt this year by the loss of Tyler Clary, but by the time Whitaker’s done he has the chance to be even better.
Honorable Mention: Cody Miller, Indiana
Diver of the Championship–David Boudia, Sr., Purdue-It almost seems silly to have to acknowledge this award, as Doubia swept the diving events in three Conference Records. This is the second time he has swept the diving, after 2009. This year, he has his sights set on bigger things than this award, though. He is hoping to sweep the diving at NCAA’s as well, though that will be a tall order with Duke’s Nick McCrory and Texas’ Drew Livingston performing very well this week also.
Honorable Mention: Drew Brown, Minnesota