End Of An Era
April 2, 2012
The tradition began during John Urbanchek's 22-year run as the University of Michigan's men's swimming coach, started by a team captain somewhere along the line.
Saturday morning workouts are typically tough ones at Michigan, and afterward the team gathers in the corner of Canham Natatorium, in front of the plaque honoring legendary Michigan swim coach Matt Mann. The captains recap the week and lead the team in singing "The Victors."
"That was the highlight, coming in and singing 'The Victors' until the ceiling will shake," said the now retired Urbanchek, his Hungarian accent lovingly turning "The Victors" into "The Wictors."
In February, Michigan senior Dane Vanderkaay swam his last Saturday practice, leading his teammates in song at the end. It would be a few weeks later, as he talked fondly about that tradition, that he would realize that he'd already done it for the last time.
And with Dane, the Vanderkaay family graduates from the Michigan swim program. Next time the team sings "The Victors" - for the first time in 12 years - there will be no Vanderkaays in the chorus.
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