The four-day meet that was the 2016 Women’s Big Ten Championships came to a close last night, but not before the Michigan Wolverines were named Champions for the 15th time. Below are just 5 of the big takeaways from the thrilling competition in Ann Arbor.
#1 – MICHIGAN EMERGED VICTORIOUS
After what was a tight team battle with Indiana University since Day 1, Michigan swam away with its 15th Big Ten title, its first since 2004. Indiana led the team standings after night 1 (120 to Michigan’s 116), but the Wolverines took over after that, increasing their lead by inches every day.
The Wolverine women now lay claim to the most conference titles of any Big Ten team and, with many key swimmers not yet graduating, the team has its arsenal largely in tact to start a new Big Ten title winning streak.
#2 – FRESHMEN FORCE AWAKENS
Indiana’s Lilly King and Michigan’s Siobhan Haughey were just two dynamic freshmen performers who were instrumental in their team’s overall point standings.
For King, the Hoosier kicked off night 1 splitting 25.92 on her team’s 200 medley relay, a time believed to be the 3rd-best 50 breast split of all-time. She then followed up with a 3rd place finish in the 200 IM (1:57.21), topped off by a stunning sweep of the individual breaststroke events. King’s 100 breaststroke time of 57.35 and 200 breaststroke mark of 2:05.58 each set the pool, meet and Big Ten Conference Records. In her first Big Ten Championships, King was named to First-Team All-Big Ten, as well as named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Haughey earned Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships as just a freshman, having collected an impact-making 3 individual titles at the meet. As well as serving her team in spades across the relays, Haughey scored the individual victory in the 200 IM in a pool, meet and Big Ten Conference Record-breaking time of 1:54.97. This was followed by an additional pool and meet record in the 200 freestyle (1:43.51), as well as a somewhat surprise win in the 100 freestyle (47.71).
#3 – WINS ON WINS ON WINS
Key performers came up big in the form of multiple event wins to maximize their point contributions to the team. Ohio State’s Lindsey Clary won both the 400 IM and 1650 freestyle races, while the aforementioned King claimed the 100 and 200 breaststroke titles.
Ohio State’s Liz Li doubled up on the 50 freestyle with a victory in the 100 butterfly, while Michigan’s Clara Smiddy collected the 100 and 200 backstroke wins.
Haughey went one further with her trio of top-of-the-podium finishes, earning golds in the 200 free, 200 IM and 100 free events to put a big point tally in the Wolverines’ corner.
#4 – DEPTH WAS THE NAME OF THE GAME
Although Indiana has its core cluster of talent in the form of Haley Lips, Kennedy Goss, Gia Dalesandro, Lilly King, Miranda Tucker and others, even that kind of depth fell short when compared to the up/mid/down siege Michigan laid down each of the tournament’s days.
Michigan brought back 4 swimmers in the A-Final of the 100 backstroke alone, which totaled 109.5 points just from that one race. As a team Michigan was able to place in the top 3 in all but one of the relays, which are brought huge point influxes to the overall standings. The Wolverines took first place in the 800 free relay and 400 free relay, the latter of which capped off the meet on the final night.
#5 – DIVING MADE THE DIFFERENCE DOWN THE LINE
Along with Michigan and Indiana in the battle for 1st was an ongoing battle between Minnesota and Ohio State for 3rd place. The Gophers indeed wound up with the overall team bronze medal, but primarily thanks to their diving phenom Yu Zhou, who captured all 3 diving titles over the course of the meet.
In doing so, Zhou collected 96 points for her Minnesota squad, which helped tip the score in their favor, as their final point tally was 927.5 to Ohio State’s 859. Zhou was named Diver of the Meet for her outstanding, team-standing-altering performance.