The Wolverine

May 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: MEN'S SWIMMING Wolverines Cap Season With A Top-Five Finish ming and diving head coach Mike Bottom thought his team had the talent to produce a top-five national finish. The Wol- verines answered the bell, finishing in exactly fifth-place with 271 total points. "I believe we are one of the nation's elite, Prior to the 2012 NCAA Championships, Michigan swim- in his fourth season. "Top five is a great finish for us. With the commitment our guys have to make in the classroom and in the community, it is special. "Every program has their restrictions, and with us being up " said Bottom, now north and being a school that is negatively recruited against by schools in the Sun Belt states, we had to overcome a lot, and we did. climb the leaderboard and solidify its status in the upper ech- elon of collegiate swimming and diving. The only Big Ten team to finish in the top five — Indiana finished 10th and Ohio State 12th — the Maize and Blue Michigan relied on consistent individual performances to " accolades, but rather a cohesive unit that stepped up and proved its merit on the national stage. "We talked a lot about the blue cloud, But at the NCAA championships, it wasn't about individual blue cloud is the understanding that we are Michigan and we represent the university as a part of a big cloud. "When we cheered for our guys, we never used names, we support was right up there with the best, if not the best. "Everyone knew that Michigan was there. earning the school its best showing in Bottom's tenure, bet- tering seventh-place finishes in 2009 and 2010. "As far as reaching our potential, we were pretty darn close, U-M placed in the top 10 in 12 different individual events, " Bottom said. "The team committed to a common goal. It started when we beat Texas early in the year and continued " " Bottom said. "The cheered 'Go Blue' to help them understand that it's not about one person, you represent Michigan nation. "I think that we out-cheered any team there — our team Sophomore Connor Jaeger was one of nine Wolverines, in 23 different events, to earn All-America honors at the NCAA Championships. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS crowned nine All-Americans in 23 different events. None was more impressive than senior Dan Madwed, who earned All- American status in five events, including a fifth-place finish in the 200-yard butterfly (1:42.61) and a fourth-place showing in 100-yard butterfly (45.91). Even more impressive is what the 2012 Big Ten Swimmer of the Year and team captain had to fight through at the meet. "When we got back we found out that he had a bulging disk in his lower back that he had been swimming with the whole meet — all of his relays, all of his individual events, said. "He scored all of those points while in really severe pain. "We knew that there was a problem with his back, we just "Dan definitely had one of the toughest lineups of anybody in the meet, and especially our team," sophomore Connor didn't know the extent. He would do it all over again for the team, even if he knew it was a bulged disk. " Jaeger added. "Swimming all of his relays and then his three individual events, he really stepped it up for the team and sacrificed a lot. It was really great to see him perform like that. Sophomore Kyle Whitaker had the best individual race for " the Maize and Blue with a second-place finish in the 400-yard individual medley (3:41.37), while Jaeger finished third in the 1,650-yard freestyle (14:35.14). 70 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2012 " Bottom throughout our Big Ten schedule and the NCAAs. I'm really proud of this group. "Going in, everyone was posting best times or close to best times," Jaeger said. "Some relays ended up doing better than " they did at the Big Ten Championships — everybody was swimming really well. "After a couple of sessions, we realized how well we were do- ing and that we could possibly break into the top five. It really motivated everybody to work hard through the long meet and come out with the best finish we've had in over 15 years. Although the strong performance validates what the Maize " and Blue accomplished throughout the regular season, es- pecially considering half of U-M's 14 participants were expe- riencing the national stage for the first time, the Wolverines know there is still work to be done to reach the heights hoped for in the program's future. Still, the program's first top-five finish since 2004 (fifth place) is a great sendoff for Madwed and the rest of the talented senior class. "Our seniors helped build this program moving forward to where we want to go," Bottom noted. "We could not have done it without them." — Kevin Minor

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