Page 10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 29, 1989
All-American Gwen DeMaat and national champion Ann Colloton spend lots of time hanging out
together when they aren't swimming. The two have been roommates since coming to Michigan.
Best rd Blue swimmers
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BY ERIC LEMONT
Behind at the turn, Ann Colloton felt no need to
panic. With half of the 200-yard breaststroke still left,
all she had to do was dig in and pick it up. At the 25-
yard mark, Colloton pulled even with Texas' Jill
On the sidelines, All-American Gwen DeMaat
watched intensely what was unfolding. Disappointed at
her own performance during the meet, DeMaat put all
her energy into cheering her teammate on.
DeMaat knew no one in the country could outkick
Colloton - Johnson would have to settle for second
Colloton touched in at 2 minutes 12.96 seconds,
Johnson 2:13.11. Michigan had its first ever national
champion swimmer in any event.
But Colloton and DeMaat are more than just a
national champion and an All-American. They're
roommates and best friends. And both almost didn't
make it to Michigan.
"I wasn't planning on swimming in college at all,"
said Colloton, who was not heavily recruited out of
high school. "I always thought swimming was so...
self serving. You win awards and congratulations and I
would rather do something like help other people rather
than doing something for myself."
SO WHILE MOST of the swimmers in her age
group dedicated their schedules to swimming year-round,
Colloton spent part of the year involved in a local
church youth club and leading a Bible study group.
When it came to look at colleges, Colloton thought a
change of scenery might be nice. After visiting Amherst
and Brown, though, Colloton underwent a small case of
Everyone with brown hair. Everyone wearing big,
long overcoats. A far cry from back home in Iowa City.
Colloton's swim club coach, Chris Coveny, finally
persuaded her to give Michigan a chance. Ironically, the
future national champion had to ask head coach Jim
Richardson if he was interested in her services.
Richardson wasn't too interested. If Colloton wasn't
swimming year round in high school how could she be
motivated to succeed at a top Division I swimming
Colloton took umbrage to the questioning of her
"I was always motivated during the swim season
when I was swimming. For those three months I'd
work very hard. But when it was over I'd be very
motivated in the other things I was doing. I think he
just thought I was lazy all around," she explained.
Colloton, of course, ended up in Ann Arbor along
with another swimmer, DeMaat, who almost didn't
make it to Michigan herself.
Like Colloton, DeMaat has a svelte build with short
blond hair. Both are religious and soft-spoken. Unlike
Colloton though, DeMaat had decided at age 12 to
dedicate her days to swimming
Swim club practice, school, homework, and team
practice was a typical day for DeMaat in high school.
The hard work paid off. By 15, she had won the 200-
yard freestyle at junior nationals. A year later, she went
to the Olympic Trials.
BY THIS TIME, DeMaat knew she could excel.
Unfortunately, top swimming schools did not.
Michigan, along with Arizona State and Southern
Illinois were the only schools recruiting the standout.
"I felt bad at the time because I had won junior
nationals and I had been to the Olympic Trials in '84. I
couldn't understand why everybody else in (in the state)
was being recruited so heavily and I wasn't being," she
For the low-key DeMaat, who attended Grand Rapids
Christian, the visit to ASU was a nightmare. "I went
down there and just hated it. They took me to all these
parties and the girls that I stayed with didn't come home
that night. It was just the worst experience ever," she
Culture shock? Sound familiar?
DeMaat decided to visit Michigan on a whim. What
she found was a religion-conscious coach she could
relate to in Richardson, a friendly group of swimmers,
and a campus not too far from her family.
DeMaat said yes to Michigan.
Richardson had DeMaat and Colloton room together
their first year and the pair hit it off immediately. You
think Dewey and Decimal go together? These two were
"WE HIT it off perfectly," said Colloton. Before
classes even started, we'd have our door open and people
would walk by and look in and say 'are you guys
twins?' People on our hall always thought that we were
sisters, twins, or at least had gone to high school
together. We were just exactly alike."
Said DeMaat: "We just did everything together. I
mean we went everywhere together. We went to
workout together, we went shopping. We went
everywhere. Serious. We never fought, we never argued,
we were both very understanding of each other."
Colloton has since dominated the 100 and 200-yard
breaststroke competition while DeMaat has dominated
the Big Ten, winning three events at the. Big 10
championships. The Wolverines' most versatile
swimmer, DeMaat most often swims long distance
freestyle and individual medley and the mile. Both have
set school and Big Ten records.
Each calls for support from the other and at the
NCAA championships two weeks ago in Indianapolis it
was DeMaat who needed Colloton.
DeMaat, who had hoped to finish her specialty -
the individual medley - in the top three, came in 11th.
"I was so disappointed," she said. "I was like 'What is
all this training doing for me? Why am I putting myself
through all this?' I expected more out of myself and to
get more points for my team and I kind of feel like I let
Colloton talked with DeMaat for three hours after the
meet trying to soothe a bruised ego. Keep your head up,
kid. The work is worth it.
Meanwhile, DeMaat remained confident about
Colloton's race - despite her trailing at the turn. 4
With 25 yards to go and the race tied, DeMaat knew
that Colloton just had to pick it up...
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