The Michigan Wolverines have completed the turnaround of their backstroking group from a program weakness to a program strength, thanks to the addition of two transfers from the University of Virginia: Kyle Dudzinski and Luke Papendick.
The two were both a part of the group of five that were suspended in the fall of 2014 after a university hazing investigations, and neither would race again for the Cavaliers.
As a freshman in 2013, Papendick won the B-Final at the NCAA Championships in the 200 back, swimming a 1:41.50. He was about half-a-second better at the 2014 ACC Championships in that event, but slipped to 14th at that year’s NCAA meet as the men’s 200 backstroke has seen a drastic rise in competitiveness in the last three years.
He’s been under 47-seconds in yards consistently in the 100 backstroke as well, joining a much-improved Michigan backstroking group that had four underclassmen last year go 47.3 or better in the event, and four of the 12 fastest in the Big Ten. When they won the NCAA title in 2013, Michigan only had two swimmers under 48 seconds in the event.
Dudzinski is an even more powerful sprint backstroker, though he’s not as good as his former and future teammate in the 200. Dudzinski’s bests are 46.0 in the 100 back and 1:43.0 in the 200 back.
Since his last college championship season, Papendick has improved in long course as well. At the 2014 US Summer Nationals, he placed 13th in the 100 back with a 55.27, 15th in the 50 back with a 26.10, and 30th in the 200 back with a 2:03.20.
Both swimmers also qualified for the 2014 NCAA Championships, though the only individual points came out of Papendick’s 14th-place finish in the 200.
Last year, it took a 46.12 to make the B-final and a 45.61 to make the championship final in the 100.
Michigan’s top backstrokers coming into the 2015 season (ranked on lifetime bests, class ranked on 2015-2016 season)
- Kyle Dudzinski, senior, 46.06
- Aaron Whitaker, sophomore, 46.24
- Luke Papendick, junior, 46.83
- Tristan Sanders, sophomore, 46.94
- Jason Chen, junior, 46.93
- Peter Brumm, senior, 47.13
- Tristan Sanders, sophomore, 1:40.34
- Luke Papendick, junior, 1:40.99
- Aaron Whitaker, sophomore, 1:41.14
- Kyle Dudzinski, senior, 1:43.06
- Jack Mangan, junior, 1:43.39