June 18, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The trophy cases at Canham Natatorium are getting a little crowded these days.
Currently, the championship trophies from the men's Big Ten and NCAA Championships are sitting on University of Michigan swimming and diving head coach Mike Bottom's desk, facing outward toward the pool deck. To the swimmers and divers that walk by, they serve as constant reminders as to what the end goals are for both the men's and women's programs.
It's hard to get those trophies, but it's even harder to keep them. As associate head coach Rick Bishop constantly says, "We're not selling easy."
There's one other trophy on the desk: the Baton of Victory, considered to be the highest prize for head swimming and diving coaches in college swimming.
Designed by artists Hugo Greco and Stan Efron and sculpted by Luigi Badia, the Baton is presented to the winning head coaches of the Men's and Women's NCAA D-I Swimming & Diving Championships. The original Baton, first awarded in 1987 and subsequently awarded to head coaches prior to that year, is housed at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
On May 16 at the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Convention in Orlando, Fla., Bottom was presented with his own Baton by virtue of leading the U-M men's swimming and diving team to its 12th national championship back in March. In 76 years, only 18 coaches have been presented with the Baton of Victory and four coached at Michigan: Matt Mann (1937-41, 1948), Gus Stager (1957-61), Jon Urbanchek (1995) and now Bottom (2013).
From Joel Shinofield, executive director of the CSCAA:
"The golden eagle at the head of the Baton symbolizes the superior strength and endurance coaches' display in inspiring their student-athletes to become champions. The column of the Baton represents spiritual wealth and prosperity while the acorn at the end of the Baton symbolizes a thriving journey in search of a precious award."
Bottom's name will soon be added to the original Baton, but as he often preaches with his teams, it's all about team and this honor is not solely just for him.
"The Baton of Victory ... what an incredible piece of swimming history to be able to add to our understanding of who we are at Michigan," Bottom said. "We are honored to stand with the great Michigan coaches from our past, Matt Mann, Gus Stager and Jon Urbanchek. We take great pride in accomplishing everything as a TEAM. The Baton of Victory is something my entire staff can cherish, because we succeeded as one. This award is for them and shows how hard they worked to win for Michigan."
Three of the four Batons, as well as the team's most recent Big Ten and NCAA trophies, will be put on display at the entrance to Canham Natatorium.
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423