By Glenn Miller, Jr. , For the Daily
Published December 4, 2011
After a disappointing loss to Stanford and Florida at home, the Michigan women’s swimming and diving team had a month off to prepare for the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City.
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The team certainly made a splash, setting 11 meet and pool records and qualifying 23 times for NCAA consideration en route to a first-place finish.
“It was really nice to see them adapt to the work that we’ve done and race on a few days rest,” said Michigan assistant coach Stefanie Kerska, who filled in for Michigan head coach Jim Richardson, who was ill.
No. 16 Michigan got out to an early lead on Friday, wasting no time in conquering the tournament field. A dominant time (1:31.50) in the 200-yard freestyle relay not only put the Wolverines (0-2 Big Ten, 1-5 overall) atop the standings, but also set new meet and pool records.
Junior Adrienne Bicek clocked the fastest time in the 500-yard freestyle, while four other Wolverines placed in the “A” final. Bicek helped the team gain its first NCAA provisional qualifying standard of the season, despite finishing behind Iowa’s Becky Stoughton.
The team took a commanding lead in the finals on the first day with a first-place finish in the 400-yard medley relay. The win gave Michigan a 126-point lead over second-place Iowa.
On Saturday, the Wolverines started right where they left off. With a time of 1:39.18, the 200-yard freestyle relay team topped the previous day’s record and earned the second-fastest time in program history.
Senior Caitlin Dauw took home the top honors in the 100-yard butterfly, followed by fellow Wolverine senior Alexa Mehesan (second) and junior Ashley Cohagen (third).
In the 800-yard freestyle relay, a team of Bicek, senior Kristyne Cole, junior Kally Fayhee, and senior Liz Johnson combined in an effort to finish first in yet another relay competition.
The team continued its considerable success at the tournament, placing three swimmers in the top-eight of the 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard backstroke events.
Senior Amanda Lohan led the diving team with a third-place finish on the three-meter board.
An impressive 631 total points gave Michigan an insurmountable lead heading into Sunday.
Bicek finished first in Sunday’s 650-yard freestyle, followed by three other Wolverines in the top five. Cohagen also improved her weekend by touching the wall first in the 200-yard backstroke.
Mehesan and Dauw — the team’s captains — each claimed victories in the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard butterfly respectively.
“Our two senior captains really showed some solid swimming and great leadership this weekend,” Kerska said.
The Wolverines capped the weekend off with a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay, completing a perfect 5-for-5 tournament in relay events.
“We have a little more depth this year, and so many of the girls are responding well to the training,” Kerska said.
“It’s nice to be able to pull four girls that are really on their ‘A’-game and put them together.”
While the tournament should boost the team’s confidence for the heart of the season, it may play a factor late in the season.
Iowa will play host to this year’s Big Ten Championships in February.
“One of the reasons we came here was to have a dry run for that meet,” Kerska said.