Mike Bottom, now with full control of the Michigan Swimming & Diving programs, is already making a strong impact with today’s announcement of the “Michigan Water Carnival”.
The event, which will be held on October 6th at 11 AM, will encompass the Oakland and Minnesota tri-meet, and will try to bring a new level of entertainment and fanfare to a college swim-meet setting.
“The Michigan Water Carnival will be unlike any other swim meet that has been put on before,” Bottom said, adding that he would like to see it become a yearly event. “We want swimming and diving to be a spectator-friendly sport, not just something that’s watched every four years. This event will allow us to show off our speed, power, and athleticism in a totally different and unique way.”
There will be some unique swims on the 13-event schedule, including a 4×75 yard medley relay and a 50-yard underwater dolphin kick. The latter of those races should excite both swim fans and non-swim fans alike; remember this video of former Texas All-American Hill Taylor? It remains one of the most viral videos of swimming ever seen.
The Michigan coaching staff will put on a show between events as well, with training tips and instruction in between races. The Michigan Dance Team, (in-)famed Michigan a capella group The Friars, and even the Michigan band.
Bottom’s attitude toward developing the sport of swimming to reach an expanded audience is reminiscent of what Pat Henry has done for college track. One of the stipulations of him taking over the head coaching job at Texas A&M once upon a time was the ability to build a state-of-the-art indoor track that was designed specifically for spectators; including a set of separated sprint lanes that ran right in front of the fan seating to increase their impact and buzz.
Bottom is taking a similar approach to swimming, and trying to push it beyond the audience of age group swimmers and age group coaches (but still creating a product that will appeal to even the most hardcore of fans). Michigan has been pushing-the-envelope ever-so-slightly with events like this and the Pro Duel Meet last year.
Possible future expansions of this event could include incorporation of Michigan’s synchronized swimming and water polo teams.