Oct. 4, 2010
Friday, Oct. 8 -- vs. Minnesota (Canham Natatorium), 5 p.m.
The University of Michigan women's swimming and diving team (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) kicks off the 2010-11 season this Friday (Oct. 8), hosting Big Ten rival Minnesota at 5 p.m. inside Canham Natatorium.
A Who's-Who at Who's Back
A total of 20 letterwinners return from last year's squad that finished third in the Big Ten Conference and 15th nationally. Among the returnees are a host of swimmers that won NCAA All-America honorable mention last season, including junior Alexa Mehesan (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley), senior Natasha Moodie (Miramar, Fla./Miramar), junior Liz Johnson (Milford, Mich./Milford) and junior Liz Koselka (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer).Mehesan and Moodie were also second team All-Big Ten. Junior Kristyne Cole (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) is also a former NCAA All-America honorable mention, earning the honor as a freshman in 2009.
Over in the diving well, junior Amanda Lohman (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) returns after having qualified for the NCAA Championships last season on the one-meter and three-meter springboards. Senior tri-captain Rachael Ropeik (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron) had a breakout season as a junior, setting career highs on all three diving boards. Together, Lohman and Ropeik will anchor the diving contingent that practices in its first year under new head coach KZ Li.
Eight new freshmen -- six swimmers and two divers -- have joined the Wolverines for the upcoming season. The newcomers are Genevieve Aube (LaSarre, Quebec/St. Andrews School), Courtney Beidler (Richboro, Pa./Council Rock South), Erin Bridgewater (Kawkawlin, Mich./Western), Erin Cameron (Rockwood, Mich./Oscar A. Carlson), Angela Chokran (South Elgin, Ill./St. Charles North), Meredith Cote (Novi, Mich./Novi), Nikki Hubbard (Granger, Ind./Penn), and Brianna Maroukis (Kalamazoo, Mich./Portage Northern).
Bridgewater and Maroukis are divers, while the remaining six are swimmers.
New "Li"-der at The Diving Well
The aforementioned Kongzheng "KZ" Li is in his first season as the head diving coach for the men's and women's swimming and diving teams. Li has spent his entire 19-year coaching career as a head coach, most recently spending the last two seasons prior to arriving in Ann Arbor as the co-head coach of the U.S. Elite Diving Academy in Columbus, Ohio.
He has Big Ten experience, as he was the head diving coach at the University of Minnesota for seven years (1996-2003), where he produced eight NCAA All-Americans, six Big Ten champions and 45 Big Ten Championships finalists. In addition, three of his divers won Big Ten Diver of the Year and four were selected as Big Ten Diver of the Championships. Li is a two-time Big Ten Diving Coach of the Year, winning the honor in 2001 (men) and 1998 (women).
A distinguished diver, Li was a three-time member of the Chinese Olympic Team, and won a bronze medal on the platform at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. From 1975-88, Li participated in more than 50 international competitions, winning 25 gold medals, 14 silver medals and 10 bronze medals. In addition, Li has served as a head coach or coach for the USA Diving National Team on more than 20 occasions, including his instruction of divers at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. In addition, he has twice coached at the World Championships (1998, 2001), three times at the World Diving Cup (1993, 1995, 1997) and once at the 1995 Pan-American Games. For his efforts, Li was named USA Diving Junior Olympic Coach of the Year in 1994 and earned the Coach of Excellence Award at the USA Diving Senior National Championships in 1996.
Young and Old
Michigan enters the 2010-11 season with one of the youngest rosters in the country. Out of the 30 members on the squad, 21 of them are redshirt sophomores or younger. After graduating 13 seniors off last year's squad, this year's roster has only two -- Moodie (swimmer) and Ropeik (diver), while adding eight freshmen (six swimmers, two divers).
To help offset the loss of last year's stellar senior class, the Wolverines will be aided by a pair of transfers, sophomores Adrienne Bicek (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove North) and Sam Pearson (Las Vegas, Nev./Faith Lutheran). Bicek, the 2008 Swimmer of the Year in the state of Illinois, comes to Michigan from the University of Georgia. A 10-time All-American in high school, Bicek swam in six events last season for the Bulldogs, and met the NCAA 'B' qualifying standard in the 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard butterfly. Pearson transferred from the University of California-Berkeley. She was a three-time NISCA and U.S.A. Swimming All-American in high school.
Top Returning Times (Times are for returning letterwinners ONLY)
50-yard Freestyle: 22.53, Natasha Moodie
100-yard Freestyle: 49.46, Natasha Moodie
200-yard Freestyle: 1:48.74, Deirdre Jones
500-yard Freestyle: 4:48.83, Kristyne Cole
1,000-yard Freestyle: 10:20.01, Kally Fayhee
1,650-yard Freestyle: 16:44.24, Kally Fayhee
100-yard Backstroke: 55.60, Ashley Cohagen
200-yard Backstroke: 1:57.23, Mattie Kukors
100-yard Breaststroke: 1:02.58, Julia Andracki
200-yard Breaststroke: 2:15.15, Julia Andracki
100-yard Butterfly: 53.49, Caitlin Dauw
200-yard Butterfly: 1:58.88, Caitlin Dauw
200-yard Individual Medley: 1:59.71, Mattie Kukors
400-yard Individual Medley: 4:13.16, Mattie Kukors
One-Meter Diving: 310.45, Amanda Lohman
Three-Meter Diving: 335.40, Rachael Ropeik
Platform Diving: 295.30, Rachael Ropeik
200-yard Freestyle Relay: 1:34.77, Dauw, Jones, Liz Johnson, Cole
400-yard Freestyle Relay: 3:27.33, Liz Johnson, Koselka, Kukors, Cole
800-yard Freestyle Relay: N/A (Did not have one relay team with four returning letterwinners)
200-yard Medley Relay: 1:45.86, Liz Johnson, Lang, Mehesan, Jones
400-yard Medley Relay: 3:48.17, Liz Johnson, Andracki, Dauw, Koselka
Challenging Schedule for 2010-11
The majority of the Wolverines' schedule for the upcoming season takes place away from Canham Natatorium. There are only three home dual meets on the roster, but all of them are against Big Ten foes, beginning this Friday with Minnesota. Michigan will return home on Friday, Jan. 21, to host archrival Ohio State at 5 p.m. before concluding the home slate eight days later on Saturday, Jan. 28, against Penn State at 11 a.m.
Also on the schedule are two double-dual meets. The first is with Big Ten foe Indiana and the University of Texas, taking place on Oct. 29-30 in Bloomington, Ind. The biggest challenge of the season for Michigan comes one week later in Palo Alto, Calif., as the Wolverines take on Florida and Stanford, last year's national champion and national runner-up, respectively. The Gators won the national championship last season by just two-and-a-half points over the Cardinal.
Michigan will also look to defend meet titles from last season's Purdue Invitational, Eastern Michigan Invitational and Copa Coqui.
Across the Country (And Beyond)
While Michigan pulls the majority of its student-athletes from the Midwest, the 2010-11 roster has 10 states and every region represented. In addition to the home state of Michigan and the subsequent pipeline states of Illinois and Pennsylvania, to which 22 of the 31 members on the roster combine to originate from, the Wolverines also have roots in Washington (Mattie Kukors), Nevada (Sam Pearson), Florida (Natasha Moodie), New Jersey (Melissa Lang), Iowa (Alexa Mehesan), Tennessee (Deirdre Jones) and Indiana (Nikki Hubbard). In addition, Genevieve Aube is the first foreign swimmer to compete for Michigan since Valeria Silva (2005-08, Peru) and is the first Canadian-born swimmer to suit up for the Maize and Blue since former Wolverine great Shannon Shakespeare (1997-2000, Winnipeg, Manitoba).
A Look Back...
Last season, Michigan finished third at the Big Ten Championships and 15th at the NCAA Championships. In 20 of the last 25 seasons, Michigan has scored a top-three finish in the Big Ten and a top-15 finish nationally under head coach Jim Richardson. The Wolverines were anchored by a 13-member senior class, including Margaret Kelly (2007-10) and Emily Brunemann (2006-08, '10), who were 2010 NCAA All-America selections. Facing one of the toughest schedules of any team in America, the Wolverines went 5-6 last season but scored Big Ten dual meet wins against Northwestern and Michigan State, beating the in-state rival Spartans for the 23rd straight time.
Richardson enters his 26th season at the helm for the Wolverines and is the longest-tenured women's swimming coach in the Big Ten. Over that time, his teams have dominated the Big Ten, winning 12 consecutive league titles from 1987-98 to add to the program's 13th in 2001 and 14th in 2004. Since taking over in 1985-86, Michigan has finished in the NCAA top 10 on 14 occasions. In 1995, U-M finished in second place as a team, following that in 1996 by hosting the NCAA Championships and finishing third.
Richardson holds a career record of 163-65 in dual-meet competition, including an impressive 107-19 mark in Big Ten action. Richardson has coached nine individual national champions, 158 NCAA All-Americans and 195 NCAA Honorable Mention All-Americans. On the conference level, he has guided 159 individual and relay conference champions and has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year six times. A two-time NCAA Coach of the Year (1993, '95), Richardson's athletes have excelled in the classroom as well as the pool with 30 CSCAA Academic All-Americans and 236 Academic All-Big Ten nominations.
Li is in his first season as the head diving coach, and Stefanie Kerska is in her 13th season as an assistant to Richardson.
OPPONENT QUICK HITTERS
Series vs. Minnesota
Michigan and Minnesota have met only seven times in dual meets, dating back to 1990, the two team's first encounter in Minneapolis ... the Wolverines are 3-4 against the Golden Gophers... Michigan has a winning dual-meet record over every other Big Ten Conference team ... the last time the two teams met in a dual meet was also the 2008-09 season opener, also in Ann Arbor, with Minnesota winning, 169-130.
Athlete to Watch
Minnesota junior diver Kelci Bryant captured the national title on the three-meter board and finished second on the one-meter at last year's NCAA Championships. Also an Olympian for Team U.S.A. at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Bryant was a first team All-Big Ten selection last season and was named Big Ten Diver of the Year and Big Ten Diver of the Championships.
Minnesota finished second in the Big Ten last season and 12th at the NCAA Championships. The Golden Gophers return nine NCAA All-Americans from one season ago, including Bryant (diving), sophomore Haley Spencer (100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke), senior Jillian Tyler (100-yard breaststroke, 400-yard medley relay), junior Ashley Steenvoorden (1,650-yard freestyle, 800-yard freestyle relay), senior Kaylee Jamison (400-yard medley relay), senior Allison Eggers (400-yard medley relay), junior Hannah Whitehead (400-yard medley relay, 800-yard freestyle relay), senior Megan Braun (800-yard freestyle relay) and junior Marissa Davies (800-yard freestyle relay).
Minnesota is helmed by co-head coaches Kelly Kremer and Terry Nieszner, each entering their sixth season. The divers are coached by Wenbo Chen, the former head coach of U.S.A. Diving, who is in his second season in Minneapolis.
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The Wolverines return to the pool on Friday, Oct. 22, when they travel south for a dual meet with Toledo. The meet is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.