6B - The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - February 14, 2005
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the Vanderkaay trio is imaking a splash on both
the Ann Arbor and world Swimming stars
Year: Fifth-year senior
Birthday: March 29,1982
Strokeg: breaststroke, butterfly
Awardo: Two-time Academic All-Big Ten;
Four-time U-M Athletic Academic Achieve-
ment; 2004 NCAA All-American
As late as his senior year of high school, Christian
was uncertain whether he wanted to pursue swim-
ming at the collegiate level.
The valedictorian of his class at Kochester Adams
High School, Christian was primarily interested in pur-
suing his education. He waited until April of his senior
year of high school to decide to try to walk on to Mich-
Then-coach Jon Urbanchek saw potential in the
young swimmer and gave him a spot on the
"He was a quiet leader," Urbanchek said.
"He just let the swimming do the talking."
Christian isoften described asa reserved
and studious person, but his family and
teammates know him for his subtle humor-
ous side and for being a strong motivator.
"Christian is a fairly quiet kid," his father,
Mark, said. "I think my wife laments a bit
because she wishes he was more social, but
he is a strong individual and a great leader."
Christian started swimming competitively at age seven with the Oakland Live Y'ers, a team based in Oakland
County in suburban Petriot.
"Christian wasn't particularly good at anything else besides swimming,"joked Mark. "When he joined (The Live
Y'ers), it just sort of took off for him."
Becoming one of the premier club swimmers at a young age, Christian was influential in pushing his brothers to
become more interested in the sport.
"Christian was the best of the three boys for a long time," Live Y'ers coach Jeff Cooper said. "He was an impres-
sive swimmer. I think watching him do so well made Peter and Alex want to step their swimming up."
His younger brothers raced him after practices and always lost to him. Now, Christian says that they could
probably beat him fairly handily.
Christian was forced to medical-redshirt for his junior year after overworking his shoulder in the summer of
2002. Even after enduring a painful surgery and hours of intense rehabilitation, Christian was determined to get
back in the pool.
"I've never seen an athlete put 150 percent effort into rehab,"Urbanchek said."Most people would give up. But he
fought back from surgery and was able to return to an even higher level of swimming. It was pure hard-work ethic."
Now in his final year of eligibility, Christian is applying to medical schools and preparing for the end of his
collegiate swimming career. r
"It has been a great experience (swimming for Michigan)," Christian said. "It has taught me most of thpNiie
lessons that I will live by for the rest of my life."
°.: ' ,
Birthday: Feb. 12,1984
Awards: Olympic gold medal in Athens in 800-meter freestyle
relay; three-time NGM pcmpion in 400-meter freyle,1,500-
meter freestyle and 800-meter freestyle relay; seven-time NCAA
All-American; 2004 BNg Ten co-Swimmer of the Year; 2003 Big Ten
freshman of the year; six-time big Ten Champion and eight-time Big
Ten Swimmer of the Week.
When Peter first started swimming, Live Y'ers coach Jeff Cooper had hi
doubts about a future in swimming for the young boy. He was small and
didn't have the raw abilities to make it as a great athlete. He never could have
believed that Peter would make it to the Olympics one day.
"Peter was the worst of his brothers when I first started coaching," Cooper
said. "It wasn't until his sophomore year of high school did I ever think he might
have a shot at a higher level of swimming."
Around the age of 15, Peter grew about seven or eight inches and became
a much stronger swimmer. Peter quietly pursued a tougher training regi
men and worked his way to becoming a faster swimmer. With sufficient time
drops, Peter made himself a promising candidate for top Pivision I programs.
Peter's decision to come to Michigan was a combination of wanting to work
with Jon Urbanchek, one of the best long distance coaches in the country, and
being near Christian.
"When I recruited Peter he casually dropped the idea that he wanted to make the (2004) Olympic team," U
moment, I knew (Michigan) was the place for him. Although I didn't have a crystal ball, I lived up to my word."
This past summer, Peter competed in Athens at the 2004 Olympic Games, earning himself a spot on the 80C
outtouched the Australians for the gold medal.
"It was awesome," Peter said. "It was better than I ever thought or dreamed it would be."
Peter's parents made the trip to Athens to watch him, but Christian and Alex stayed at home and watche
with their younger brother, Pane.
"We watched it live on CbC," Christian said."Then we wa
that night, and it was just as exciting. Only this time, ever
got about 50 phone calls after he won."
Peter stores Coach Bob Bowman met Peter this past summer during (
Olympic impressed with his work ethic and racing style.
a medal In "What I would hope for Peter is that he continues to bi
k really see himself a one of the premier wimrner in this
Birthday: June 21,1980
Strokes: Freestyle, butterfly
Awards: Finished 19th in the 200-meter
butterfly at the Olympic Trials
When asked about Alex Vanderkaay, most people who
know him well get a funny smile on their face, which is fol-
lowed by a big smile. "Oh, Alex."
Labeled as the clown of the family, Alex is best known
for his hilarious impersonations - Napoleon Dynamite and
Anchorman are his best.
"Pown the line, (the boys) become less introverted and
more extroverted," their father, Mark, said. "Alex is just
known as the comedian of our family."
Alex began swimming when he was five years old, and he
joined his brothers on the Live Y'ers team when he was seven.
Live Y'er coach Jeff Cooper remembered when Alex joined the team
- not because he was the third Vanderkaay, but because of his
potential to become a great swimmer.
"Alex had two older brothers to live up to," Cooper said.
"So I think he was pretty motivated to do as well as
Since Alex attended the same high school as
Peter for two years, the two brothers got the
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