We’ll be previewing the top 10 men’s and women’s programs from the 2016 NCAA Championships – stay tuned to our College Swimming Previews channel to catch all 20. Can’t get enough college swimming? Check out the College Preview issue of SwimSwam Magazine for more team previews and power rankings of every major Division I conference.
Key Losses: Ali DeLoof (32 NCAA points, 4 NCAA Relays), Zoe Mattingly (Big Ten finalist backstroker), Sarah Kamstra (Big Ten finalist diver), Marni Oldershaw (Big Ten finalist breast/IMer)
The Michigan women made huge strides in the 2016 post-season, cracking the top 10 at the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2008. Their 10th place finish was a major upgrade from the 22nd place they posted in 2015.
The women also became Big Ten conference champs, taking the title over Indiana in their home pool and winning for the first time since 2004. That gave them their 15th championship title in program history, more than any other program in the conference.
SPRINT FREE: A
The Wolverines’ sprint free group will have to make up for the loss of Ali Deloof, a finalist in the 50 and 100 freestyles at NCAAs and member of 4 relays, but they still have a very strong sprint crew for this season.
One of the Wolverines’ top returners is sophomore Siobhan Haughey (47.71), who should continue to have a major impact after winning the 100 free at Big Tens and placing 11th in the event at NCAAs. Aside from Haughey, the women have several Big Ten scorers coming back this season, such as sophomore Catie Deloof (22.97, 49.30) and senior Maddy Frost (22.66, 49.84), who scored in both sprint free races at Big Tens.
In terms of relays, the Wolverines have plenty of talent to fill the gaps, but it helps that 3/4 of both sprint free relays at NCAAs are returning this season.
- 200 free relay returners: Siobhan Haughey, Catie Deloof, Maddy Frost
- 400 free relay returners: Siobhan Haughey, Becca Postoll, Gabby Deloof
The Wolverines’ options for the 400 free relay include Clara Smiddy, who was on their winning 400 free relay at Big Tens, and Catie Deloof, who swam the 200 free relay and prelims of the 400 free relay at NCAAs. Incoming freshman Vanessa Krause could also make a case as a relay swimmer.
DISTANCE FREE: A+
The Wolverines hauled in a lot of their points from the distance freestyle races, and will return NCAA scorers G Ryan (4:38.43, 15:58.54) and Rose Bi (4:35.69, 15:45.26) this season. Bi was an All-American last season, taking 3rd in the 1650 and 5th in the 500 free at NCAAs. Ryan was just outside the top 8 in both of those races with a pair of 9th place finishes. The distance duo gives Michigan the potential to bring in A-final points for 2 swimmers in both events at NCAAs.
In the 200 free, Michigan has plenty of scoring potential in G Ryan (1:45.24), Siobhan Haughey (1:43.35), Gabby Deloof (1:45.71), and Becca Postoll (1:45.84). Haughey is looking particularly dangerous after placing 5th in the event at her first NCAA meet. In addition to the individual prospects, Michigan is bringing back their entire 800 free relay from last year’s NCAAs (G. Deloof, Haughey, Ryan, and Clara Smiddy).
On top of to their freestyle talent, Rose Bi (400 IM, 4:08.56) and Siobhan Haughey (200 IM, 1:54.97) also bring some IM points to the team. Haughey was the 2016 Big Ten champ in the 200 IM, and Bi was the 3rd place finisher in the 400 IM. Both were off their season best times at the NCAA meet, landing Haughey in the B-final and Bi at 20th in prelims, but they could give the Wolverines a decent points boost as their best times could get Haughey into the top 8 and Bi into the top 16.
Clara Smiddy (1:56.74) also brings scoring potential in the 200 IM . She was 5th in the event at Big Ten, but scratched the race at NCAAs to focus on the backstrokes. If she decides to swim it at NCAAs this season, she could add a few more points to their total.
The fly events are a weaker area for Michigan, as their highest finisher in the 100 fly at Big Tens, Zoe Mattingly, has now graduated. This is where the freshman class could make a big difference. Incomers Vanessa Krause (53.49) and Emily Eastin (54.24) have immediate top-8 potential at Big Tens, as Eastin is just a few tenths shy of the 53.83 it took to qualify for the Big Ten final, and Krause is already under that mark.
In the 200 fly, they’ll have Krause (1:58.07) and Astrid Swensen (1:57.20), who placed 10th at Big Tens last season.
While the Wolverines’ fly group should be able to do a decent amount of damage at Big Tens, they’ll have to improve in order to really make an impact at the NCAA level.
The Wolverines are a powerhouse in the backstroke events, bringing back Clara Smiddy (51.79, 1:50.59), the Big Ten champion in both backstroke races and NCAA finalist in the 200 back. They’ve also got returning NCAA qualifiers Gabby Deloof (53.59, 1:54.25), who placed in the top 8 in both races at Big Tens, and Becca Postoll (1:56.30).
Newcomer Emily Eastin is a strong backstroker, coming in with a personal best 53.54 in the 100 back that would’ve qualified her 6th for Big Ten finals last season.
Emily Kopas is the breaststroke weapon for the Wolverine’s, boasting lifetime bests of 59.85 and 2:07.88 in the breast races. Those times, however, are from the 2014-15 season, as she posted a 1:00.46 and 2:09.48 in 2015-16. If she can get back down to her best times, she has scoring potential in both breaststrokes at NCAAs, and is a top 8 threat in the 200.
Aside from Kopas, Carolyn McCann (1:00.93, 2:11.62) is also a returning Big Ten finalist in the 200 breast. If she can get back down to her personal best in the 100 breast, she could move up from the B-final to the A-final in the shorter distance as well.
The Michigan women head into 2016-17 with a good chance at repeating as Big Ten champions. Their freestyle group has plenty of scoring potential in both sprint and distance, which bodes well for their free relays as well as the individual points.
Aside from a lack of depth in the breaststroke events, the Wolverines look good all-around. The freshman will play a big role this season, especially in the butterfly races where Eastin and Krause may be their strongest swimmers.
If everyone swims up to their potential, they should challenge for a top 10 spot at NCAAs again this season.