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30 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2020 BY CHRIS BALAS M ike Bottom's Michigan swimming team was roll- ing heading toward the NCAA Championships, ranking third nationally in the poll done by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA). The Wolverines had just captured the Big Ten championship (the program's first since 2016) af- ter outpacing defending three-time champion and No. 4 Indiana by 219 points in their own pool, and boasted seven league champions and 12 all- conference selections in a remarkable season. U-M had 12 swimmers and five relays qualify for the NCAA Cham- pionships, the fourth-most quali- fiers in NCAA, when the rug was abruptly pulled out from under them by the coronavirus pandemic. The disappointment was, unfortu- nately, familiar territory for Bottom. He was a member of the 1980 Olym- pic team that didn't get a chance to participate in Moscow due to the United States' boycott following Rus- sia's invasion of Afghanistan, leav- ing many athletes with no chance to compete after their hard work. "We were called to sacrifice our Olympic dreams … I understood sacrifice," Bottom said after the NCAA announced the cancellation of the championships. That still didn't make it easier to address the team. "When you get punched in the gut, you lose your air … and they lost their air. There were moments of tears, moments of looking in the mirror and, 'What about me?' "My message was, 'Hey, this hurts. I get it.' It hurts more than most people can even fathom, be- cause you've been working so hard for these moments." But they'll still leave champions, thanks in large part to seven Big Ten individual, relay or diving titles. The nine-man senior class, paced THE VICTORS Swimming And Diving Won U-M's Only Men's Big Ten Title This Year MALE TEAM OF THE YEAR SWIMMING & DIVING

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