How big did Club Wolverine come up in its recent national competition? The size of Texas big!
In August, Club Wolverine took first place overall at the National Club Swimming Association (NCSA) championships in Indianapolis and Coach Gunnar Schmidt was named NCSA Coach of the Year.
Last month, Club Wolverine took a group of 33 girls down to Texas for a sectional meet and finished first overall – they even had a swimmer quality for the 2020 Olympic Trials. They competed at the 2019 Speedo Sectional Series in College Station, Texas from Feb. 28 through March 3 and brought the championship trophy back to Ann Arbor.
Club Wolverine finished first with 274 points, just two points better than Aggie Swim Club. Lakeside Aquatic Club (Texas) was third (262), Texas A&M was fourth (261) and Magnolia Aquatic was fifth (254). Thirty of the 50 teams on the pool deck finished with at least one point.
“Ann Arbor swimming is in a great place right now,” says Schmidt, a former standout swimmer at U-M. “Club Wolverine is lucky to have some talented swimmers from Ann Arbor Skyline, Ann Arbor Pioneer, and Ann Arbor Huron on our team. We also pull from over 15 other high schools. All these schools are consistently ranked in the top 10 at states every year but we come together during the club season and do great things.”
The win in Texas was even more impressive considering it came against elite programs from all over the country with teams much bigger than the team Club Wolverine took south.
“We started traveling to Texas for a change of pace,” Schmidt said. “We get to race the top teams in the Midwest all year round. The club teams we compete against in Texas are three to four times the size of Club Wolverine and are consistently ranked as some of the top programs in USA Swimming. Pulling off a win at a meet like this is a great accomplishment for Club Wolverine. We are proud of our team.”
Skyline senior Casey Chung, who is headed to Michigan in the fall, qualified for the 2020 Olympic Trials in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:02.48. Other highlights in Texas came from the 800 free relay team which took fourth; and the 400 free relay team which took third. The 400 medley relay was a big event for Club Wolverine. They had a foursome take second and another group finish third.
Schmidt says the team travels with only a few parents as chaperones and is a great opportunity for the swimmers to stand on their own.
“We spend a lot of time educating and guiding the swimmers,” he said. “But, ultimately their preparation, recovery, nutrition, etc. all falls on them. We talk a lot about how we want to support each other as a team through the meet. When Club Wolverine was in the water racing, we were the loudest team cheering on deck!”
The cheers were heard all the way back to Michigan, where the championship trophy ended up.
Among the many highlights
Kaylee Williams was seventh in the 1500 free (17:16.41), fifth in the 400 free (4:20.79); 10th in the 800 free (9:08.80) and sixth in the 500 free (4:52.20); Sophia Tuinman was fourth in the 200 back (2:16.43), 11th in the 200 IM (2:22.50) and ninth in the 100 back (1:04.03); Rhianna Hensler was eighth in the 100 fly (1:02.79); Lindsey Witte was 12th in the 400 IM (5:04.92); Chung was fourth in the 100 back (1:03.44); Drue Thielking was 13th in the 100 breaststroke (1:15.69); Annick Gardon was second in the 200 IM (2:16.46) and fourth in the 200 free (1:59.82); Emily Tran was first in the 200 fly (2:10.76) and fifth in the 200 free (2:01.41); Julia Coffman was second in the 100 fly (1:00.08); Anna Bosinger was first in the 500 free (5:21.95) and sixth in the 100 free (55.53); and Allison Ploutz-Snyder was third in the 200 IM (2:16.62).