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January 17, 1995 - Image 19

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-17

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The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Tuesday, January 17, 1995 - 5









.Michigan sets sights on first national title


Daily Sports Writer
It is only a matter of formality. For
the Michigan women's swimming
team, the regular season is of little
significance. As of Friday, the Wol-
verines, ranked second nationally and
have not been seriously tested during
the regular season. Winning a ninth-
straight Big Ten championship should
hardly be more of a challenge.
What does matter is the NCAA
Championship meet March 16-18 in
Austin, Texas.
The NCAA Championships are
not an unfamiliar place to the Wol-
verines. Michigan will attempt a
fourth-straight NCAA top eight fin-
ish. The Wolverines finished eighth
at last year's NCAA meet in India-
Michigan returns nine swimmers
who pulled down All-American hon-
ors last year. The Wolverines are led
by senior co-captain, Alecia
Humphrey. Humphrey is an eight-
time All-American, two-time U.S.
Open backstroke champion, two-time
Big Ten Swimmer of the Year and
. twelve-time conference champion.
Humphrey leads a trio of
backstrokers that have dominated the
Big Ten for the past two years.
Humphrey, fellow co-captain Jenni-
fer Almeida and Beth Jackson each
placed at last year's NCAA Champi-
onships. Humphrey, Almeida and
Jackson hold three of the top six posi-
tions on the Big Ten's all-time 100
and 200-yard backstroke performance
list. Michigan head coach Jim
Richardson labeled his backstrokers
"the finest trio ever in the Big Ten
Conference, and the finest collegiate
trio this year in the country."

Humphrey, for one, will not be satis-
fied with another eighth-place finish.
"We've shifted our emphasis this
year to the NCAAs," Humphrey said.
"We've trained harder this season than
ever before and we know that we can
place in the top three."
The triumvirate swimming the
backstroke will get plenty of help
from a group of talented new Wolver-
ines. Michigan's freshman class, rated
second-best in the nation, solidify the
team's strengths and fill previous
weaknesses in the sprints and relays.
Newcomer Kerri Hale has been in-
valuable to Richardson in the dis-
tance events.
Hale and fellow freshman Talor
Bendel have made the butterfly a
strength for the Wolverines. Two All-
Americans, Anne Kampfe and Beth
Jackson, have both had strong show-
ings in the fly already this year.
The Wolverines also picked up a
three-time All-American. Junior
Megan Gillam transferred from Texas
where she was named All-Southwest
Conference in four events. Gillam, a
native of Dearborn, Melisa Stone and
freshman Kim Johnson have filled a
gaping hole in the sprints for Michi-
gan. Last year, Stone became the first
Wolverine ever to score in the 50-
yard freestyle at the NCAA Champi-
In the breaststroke, the Wolver-
ines are led by sophomores Rachel
Gustin and Jodi Navta. Gustin earned
All-American honors last season with
her performance at NCAAs and scored
in each of the seven events she com-
peted in at NCAAs. Navta earned All-
American recognition after placing
fifth in last year's 200-yard breast-

The addition of the freshmen
coupled with the return of nine NCAA
All-Americans gives Richardson an
extremely talented and versatile team.
The Wolverines pack a powerful
punch that stretches three and four-

ing to compete in the Pan-American
Games in Argentina instead.
"If we get 13 or 14 swimmers in
NCAAs, we'll be in real good shape,"
Richardson said."We need to have a
strong showing at Big Tens for more

ships) but we're going into the meet
sticking together as a team."
Early in November, Michigan got
a taste of just how good of a team that
it could be. At the Lady Mustang
Classic, the Wolverines finished well-
ahead of five nationally ranked teams,
winning the meet. The Wolverines
have recently been promoted to the
No. 2 ranking but face an uphill battle
if they want to dethrone defending
NCAA champion Stanford.
And though Richardson does not
believe that last weekend's dual meet
against the Cardinal is much of an
indicator of his team's success at the
NCAA meet, the feeling around
Canham Natatorium is that the Wol-
verines may be the bridesmaids again.
"I think that we are a very, very
good team," Richardson said. "We
have a lot of depth where other teams
naturally don't. But Stanford is so
strong and they'll have to give away
the national championship. We have
to hit on all cylinders just to have a
In the year before the 1996 Olym-
pics in Atlanta, Humphrey and other
Wolverine Olympic hopefuls have an
extra incentive to post fast times. The
team has concentrated their training
and their hearts on the NCAA Cham-
"Obviously we want to win Big
Tens," Humphrey said."But this year,
our emphasis is on the NCAAs. I
know we'll have to swim out-of-our-
minds, but we're shooting for number
And so in Austin, while watchful
observers will be eyeing the time
clock, don't be surprised if the Wol-
verines' eyes are set on a national

Jennifer Almeida: Senior ...
Backstroke/Freestyle-... All-
American ... Two-time Big Ten
champion ... Co-Captain

In her second year, Jodi Navta looks to garner another All-American
accolade. Much of Michigan's hopes ride on the success of its sophomore

deep in almost every event.
"For the first time since I've been
here, we have no glaring weaknesses
and we have depth in every event."
Richardson said.
But Michigan may not be quite deep
enough. Seven Wolverines -Bendel,
Gustin, Hale, HumphreyAlegra Breaux
and Lisa Butzlaff-are almost assured
toqualify for theNCAA meet in March.
Richardson is hoping that six more
swimmers will post qualifying times at
the Big Ten meet.
The Wolverines will especially
need the added depth due to the loss of
All-American diver Carrie Zarse, who
will not dive at the NCAA meet, opt-

girls to place."
The Wolverines are more confi-
dent that they can place near the top of
the standings at the NCAA meet this
year than ever before. Part of this
new-found confidence is a result of a
great amount of extra training.
Michigan spent the holidays in
Hawaii, training extensively with the
NCAA Championships in mind. The
squad swam nearly 1,000 yards longer
each day than usual. Swimming over
a mile a day may give Michigan the
extra push that it needs.
"Everyone worked really hard in.
Hawaii," Gustin said. "Each one of us
is ready (for the NCAA Champion-

Talor Bendel: Freshman .
Butterfly/Freestyle ... 1994
YMCA Swimmer of the Year.
ranked No. 1 amongst high
schoolers in 100-yard fly, No. 2
in 200-yard free

Newcomers fill gaps in Wolverine roster, bolster title hopes
* Second-ranked recruiting class and junior transfer give Michigan the depth and power to challenge top teams

Daily Sports Writer
In years past, Michigan women's
swimming coach Jim Richardson was
pleased with a top-ten national finish
and was skeptical about breaking into
the elite rank of teams at the NCAA
Championship. After four consecu-
tive top ten finishes at the NCAAs
and back-to-back highly-touted re-
cruiting classes, the Wolverines have
higher aspirations for this year's
"We have really high goals,"
Michigan co-cantain Alecia

Humphrey said. "This team wants to
win NCAAs."
What makes this Michigan team
so much better than years past is that
it can now compete with the colle-
giate swimming powerhouses -
Stanford, Florida and Texas.
The No. 2 Wolverines amended
their weaknesses by filling in the gaps
with new, talented swimmers who
have meshed easily with the veteran,
established swimmers on the team.
"This is the deepest and most bal-
anced team we've ever had here at
Michigan," Richardson said. "No area

in particular is any stronger than the
After having acquired one of the
premiere recruiting classes in the
nation last year, Richardson bet-
tered his feat and recruited the sec-
ond-rated freshman class in the na-
tion this year. Now the Wolverines
boast one of the best all-around
teams in the country.
"I don't necessarily recruit to fill
gaps in the team," Richardson said. "I
recruit people who belong at Michi-
gan and have a strong interest in this

Luckily for Michigan, everything
just seems to fit into place. The Wol-
verines' strengthened their once weak
events - individual medley, butter-
fly and sprints - with talented new
swimmers and the emergence of their
The Wolverines' freshmen -
Talor Bendel, Alegra Breaux, Kim
Johnson and Kerri Hale - are the
most experienced of the ten-mem-
ber class. Johnson, the lone mem-
ber with international experience,
finaled in the 50-meter freestyle at
the 1994 Goodwill Games. Bendel,
Breaux and Hale all enjoyed valu-
able exposure in high school, hav-
ing been nationally ranked in their
respective events.
"The freshmen are not inexperi-
enced," Richardson said. "They've
all been to senior nationals and faced
big time experience."
The freshmen have adjusted well
to the college level. Each of the fresh-
men have benefited the Wolverines in
one way or another. Hale and Bendel
removed the burden from sophomore
Anne Kampfe in the butterfly. Hale, a
three-time Michigan state champion,
placed fourth in the 200-yard butter-
fly at the 1994 Senior Nationals.
Bendel concluded her high school
career ranked No. I nationally in the
100 butterfly.
"It has been an easy adjustment
with the team so far," Bendel said.

"We've worked really well together
as a team."
Michigan snagged three of the top
five nationally-ranked high school IM
swimmers in Breaux (No. 1), Johnson
(No. 2) and Karin Bunting (No. 5).
Add Kampfe, who finished second in
the 400 IM last year, and the Wolver-
ines now boast one of the top IM
teams in the country.
"We tend to be stronger in the
IM," Richardson said. "That's prob-
ably a good race to be strong in be-
cause they can race other races."
The most unexpected, yet benefi-
cial acquisition this year was Megan
Gillam, a transfer from Texas. Gillam,
a Dearborn native, brings an abun-
dance of talent and big race experi-
ence to Michigan. The junior was a
three-time NCAA All-American for
the Longhorns.
Gillam and Johnson help to form a
formidable sprint team for Michigan.
Along with the emergence of sopho-
more Melissa Stone, the Wolverines
can now compete with any of the top-
ranked sprinters in the nation.
"I like to think this year and next
year I'll add my experience with
Texas," Gillam said. "I know what
it's like swimming for a top-ranked
team and I try to act like a leader.
"This team has just as much talent
as any other team I've swam on.
There's no superstars: it's more a
team than individuals."

Rachel Gustin: Sophomore ...
Breastroke/Individual Medley ...
All-American ... Two-time Big Ten
champion ... Represented U.S.
in 1994 World Championships

Alecia Humphrey: Senior ...
Backstroke/Individual Medley,...
All-American ... Two-time Big Ten
Swimmer of the Year ... 12-time
Big Ten champion ... American
record (SC) 200-meter
backstroke ...Two Big Ten
Conference records ...Three
Michigan records ... Co-captain

Senior Alecia Humphrey co-captains the Wolverines in the quest for their first national championship.

*Stanford outtouches Blue in battle for top ranking
No. 2 Wolverines fall to No. 1 Cardinal by four points; swim well enough to overcome California

Daily Sports Writer
In football, the end of the game is
designated by the clock running out.
In swimming, the meet ends when the
last relay team touches the timepad.
Sometimes, though rarely, that last
touch can determine who wins the
meet, and the excitement level can
rival that of a winning touchdown
pass with no time on the clock.

slightly less than one second, 3:29.57-
3:30.54. The first and third place fin-
ishes pushed the Cardinal ahead to
win the meet and extend the team's
dual meet winning streak to 45 victo-
Double-winning for the Wolver-
ines were Lisa Butzlaff in both the
100-yard (1:04.01) and 200-yard
breastrokes (2:17.96), Alecia
Humphrey in the 100-yard (56.19)

coach Jim Richardson said.
Stanford returned U.S. Olympian
Jenny Thompson, who won the 100
freestyle and contributed to Cardinal vic-
tories in the 400 medley and free relays.
"Thompson has the leading time in
the country in the 100 free. When you
are dealing with athletes of this caliber,
the fact that you have had a couple more
dual meets than they've had doesn't
make a difference," Richardson said.
ThP n nn,'cxxiPAnPnCC ,, PxAdcint

verines their most numerous victories
with Humphrey and Beth Jackson
consistently placing in the top three.
Saturday's meet also involved the
U.S. National Team, that included
former Stanford star and four-time
Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans.
Evans, who won the 500 and 1000
freestyles, and Angie Wester-Krieg
(200 fly) were the only team mem-
bers to win events for the team. Michi-
nn"hn~ tkA TT Qtam 0OflQ

from the Stanford meet.
"The. Stanford meet was a very
emotional meet, and that uses your
training energy, not only physically,
but also emotionally ... we went into
Berkeley a little flat," Richardson said.
"1 think we swam just well enough to
win the meet but I was a little disap-
pointed in the preparation of the team
prior to the meet."
With the weekend split, the team
'cnntnnei ts ,mid to thepNCtA A uiiet

Beth Jackson: Junior ...
Backstroke ... All-American .
Two-time Big Ten champion

. rl l{...' .

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