Michigan Rallies to Repeat as Big Ten Champions
» Michigan erased a 26.5-point deficit on the final day to capture its second consecutive Big Ten title.
» The Wolverines vaulted into the lead thanks to an incredible performance in the 100-yard freestyle. All six swimmers made finals and finished in the top 17, combining to score 106 points.
» Jake Mitchell (1650-yard freestyle) and Wyatt Davis (200-yard backstroke) each won silver medals on Saturday.
» River Wright set a school record in the 100-yard freestyle on the leadoff leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay (42.06).
Site: Columbus, Ohio (McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion)
Event: Big Ten Championships (Day 5 of 5)
U-M Team Standing: 1st place of 10 Teams (1,401 points)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, March 7 — at OSU Last Chance Meet (Columbus, Ohio), 10 a.m.
• Complete Results (PDF)
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The University of Michigan men’s swimming and diving team celebrated its 100th year of varsity competition in a big way, overcoming a final-day deficit to capture its 42nd Big Ten championship on Saturday (March 6) at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.
The Wolverines entered the last day of competition 26.5 points behind Indiana and only 10 points ahead of third-place Ohio State. By the end of the day, it had the team title in its grasp, a feat that could not have been accomplished if not for its performance on Saturday morning during preliminaries. U-M put 12 swimmers in ‘A’ or ‘B’ finals, compared to eight for both Indiana and Ohio State. The resolve was evident, as five swimmers got their hands on the wall for either an eighth-place finish or 16th-place finish, solidifying their spots in the finals where the most points were.
Over the five days in Columbus, Michigan won three Big Ten individual or relay titles, set 49 new career bests and saw 11 swimmers etch their names on the program’s all-time top performers list.
“This is a victory that stands apart,” said head coach Mike Bottom. “We came into this thing 200-plus points behind. We lost a crazy amount of points last year from seniors who graduated. We didn’t have Ricardo [Vargas] with us, and he’s a big scorer. If you look back at all the time drops, to do what we did, it’s insane.”
“You know, it’s sad Ian Miskelley couldn’t be with us, but this team moved forward with him in an incredible way. It’s sad that we missed all those times earlier in the year when we couldn’t train at Canham, but that united us. There’s no other Big Ten championship like this in our history. There are no words. It’s just amazing.”
The Wolverines set the tone in the 100-yard freestyle, as all six swimmers made it back for finals. Senior Luiz Gustavo Borges and sophomore River Wright finished in a three-way tie for fourth (with Indiana’s Tomer Frankel), touching collectively at 42.50. Sophomore Cam Peel was eighth (43.14). Three others scored points: freshman James LeBuke in 13th (43.42), junior Patrick Callan in 16th (44.12) and freshman Bence Szabados, who moved up and won the bonus final from an outside lane, in 17th (43.39). The six swimmers combined to score 106 points, vaulting Michigan into the team lead.
Michigan added some insurance via the 1,650-yard freestyle. Freshman Jake Mitchell swam in the final heat of the night, winning a silver medal and becoming the 10th-fastest performer in school history (14:42.60). Two others who swam in early heats made the top eight, including senior Will Roberts in fifth (14:59.87) and sophomore Danny Berlitz in seventh (15:03.97). Junior Andrew Babyak, who made the roster after swimming the mile at last weekend’s First Chance Meet, chipped in a few points in 21st (15:25.90).
Two Wolverines put impressive caps on their weekends with berths in the 200-yard backstroke final. Freshman Wyatt Davis qualified for his third final of the week, finishing second and winning silver to make him the third-fastest performer in school history (1:40.68). Junior Jared Daigle wrapped his breakout meet with an eighth-place finish (1:42.67), while junior Bora Unalmis joined them in the top 10 in 10th (1:42.34). Senior/junior Spencer Carl swam the event for the first time since November 2017 and added crucial points, finishing 14th (1:44.53).
One year after graduating four seniors who made the top-11 in the 200-yard breaststroke, Michigan reloaded with three juniors in the top eight on Saturday. Chief among them was Will Chan, who finished fifth (1:53.92), a huge improvement from last year’s performance when he was 31st (1:59.09). AJ Bornstein, one of the meet’s heroes after winning Friday’s swim-off by .01 seconds, took sixth (1:54.48), increasing his odds of receiving an invite to the NCAA Championships. And Mason Hunter, who missed Friday’s final despite cracking 52 seconds, bounced back in a big way, finishing eighth (1:55.42).
The Wolverines held a 54-point lead into the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, needing only to finish the race to secure the title. Wright led off in 42.06, setting a school record for the 100-yard freestyle, followed by Szabados, Peel and Borges. They came in third (2:49.66), winning a bronze medal.
Select swimmers will be back in the water Sunday (March 7) racing to improve their times at the Ohio State Last Chance Meet. The racing begins at 10 a.m. at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.
Michigan Big Ten Champions (3)
Jake Mitchell: 500-yard Freestyle
800-yard Freestyle Relay: Patrick Callan, Jake Mitchell, Danny Berlitz, Wyatt Davis
200-yard Medley Relay: Wyatt Davis, Will Chan, River Wright, Luiz Gustavo Borges
Big Ten Award Winners
Swimmer of the Championships: Brendan Burns, Indiana
Freshman of the Year: Jake Mitchell, Michigan
U-M Sportsmanship Award Honoree: Will Roberts
2020-21 Michigan All-Big Ten Selections
First Team: Danny Berlitz, Luiz Gustavo Borges, Patrick Callan, Will Chan, Wyatt Davis, Jake Mitchell, River Wright
100 Freestyle — River Wright, 42.06 (No. 1 at U-M)
100 Freestyle — Cam Peel, 42.88 (No. 10 at U-M)
100 Freestyle — James LeBuke, 43.31
100 Freestyle — Bence Szabados, 43.39
1650 Freestyle — Jake Mitchell, 14:42.60 (No. 10 at U-M)
200 Backsroke — Wyatt Davis, 1:40.68 (No. 3 at U-M)
200 Backstroke — Jared Daigle, 1:42.18 (No. 9 at U-M)
200 Backstroke — Bora Unalmis, 1:42.34
200 Backstroke — Spencer Carl, 1:44.30
200 Backstroke — Nadav Aaronson, 1:48.25
200 Breaststroke — Will Chan, 1:53.27 (No. 8 at U-M)
200 Breaststroke — Mason Hunter, 1:54.15 (No. 9 at U-M)
200 Breaststroke — AJ Bornstein, 1:54.42 (No. 10 at U-M)
200 Breaststroke — Jack McCurdy, 1:58.35