In Mike Bottom’s first freshman class of women at Michigan, he inherited a very good crop of recruits. He then proceeded to bring in a very good crop of his own, even on a truncated recruiting season.
Now, as things have settled in and his men’s program is coming off of an NCAA Championship, his women’s team might be turning the corner and returning to status as one of the elite squads in the country, after Gillian Ryan of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club committed to Michigan on Tuesday.
Ryan is the biggest recruit for Michigan since at least Margaret Kelly came to Ann Arbor in 2007.
Ryan, like many North Baltimore products, does most of her swimming in long course, but in yards she’s still a superstar already. She’s been 1:45.20 in the 200 yard free, 4:36.99 in the 500 yard free, and 15:49.74 in the 1650 free, meaning she’s already easily a three-event NCAA scorer individually as a freshman.
Even without a big taper, she’s already been 49.89 in the 100 yard free, which could put her on Michigan’s 400 free relay as a freshman as well, depending on how the rest of the team’s development goes.
In long course, after a year where she’s been working on her speed (specifically for putting in better openings on her distance races), she went 8:25.57 in the long course 800 free. The speed didn’t really show up in her other long course races between her junior and senior years of high school, but she was 56.1, 1:59.2, and 4:07.2 in the 100, 200, and 400 long course freestyles the summer before in 2012.
Ryan very nearly made the 2012 Olympic team after placing 3rd in the 800 free, and in 2011 was the 2011 National Champion in the 800 free (albeit at a National Championship meet the week after the World Championships, meaning the Worlds qualifiers were largely absent).
Michigan, a month ago, seemed like a heavy favorite for Ryan’s services, thanks to having former NBAC coach Keenan Robinson on their staff: he had been Ryan’s coach at NBAC. Even though Robinson returned to NBAC in late August, Michigan, led by the hottest assistant coach on the face of the planet Josh White and his distance group, still was a very attractive option.
When Ryan won her National Championship in 2011, she swam for the Parkland Aquatic Club. Her coach there, Erik Posegay, was hired by NBAC, and Ryan joined him in Baltimore.