To hear him say it, Mike Bottom “is ready to take fast swimming to the mid-d world!” To look at his history, you have to wonder – can make middle-distance fun and cool again?
Ryan Feeley and Hassan Abdel-Khalik think so. Feeley, the Junior Pan Pac 10K Champion and top-ranked miler “is a distance specialist who also likes to swim short distances," said Bottom. "He is going to be a great distance swimmer, but we will train him from the 100 all the way to the mile. He is excited about that, and I don't think that can be done anywhere else in the country but here."
Abdel-Khalik learned of Michigan from fellow Canadian Andrew Hurd. The long-time national teamer, “swam events similar to mine so I was interested in what he did to swim at such a high caliber, and more importantly, maintain it.” Abdel-Khalik has more speed than Hurd, something that excites Bottom. "He is the best swimmer coming out of Canada," said Bottom. "Hassan has broken the Canadian junior freestyle records and he is the fastest young Canadian coming out of high school.” Better still, he opted for Michigan over Big Ten rivals Minnesota and Northwestern, and national title contenders California, Auburn and Stanford.
If Feeley and Abdel-Khalik are mid-distance guys developing speed, Evan Gregg might be a sprinter looking to expand his range. "Evan is an all-around swimmer," said Bottom. "We believe he will be a very good 200 IM swimmer and we are excited about him." He’s also a legacy with a dad who ran track for the Wolverines. Dr. John Gregg, told the Roanoke Times, “Being a U of M alum, I was thrilled with the choice."
Something striking about this class is how rapidly they’ve been improving since their original signings back in November. Take Eric Huffman and Sean Fletcher. Back in November Bottom predicted that Huffman would be “one of the top sprinters coming out of high school” and that Fletcher, “is going to make some drops and be one of the fastest 100 flyers coming out of high school."
He was right on both counts. Fletcher is THE fastest 100 flyer coming out of high school – ever. He broke the national high school record with a 47.08 back in February. That same month Huffman lopped 4/10 off his 50 free and a full second off of his 100 free to post times that stack up favorably against a largely older and international group of sprinters.
Top talent aside, the breath of Michigan’s class is particularly impressive given the late hiring Bottom and assistant Dr. Josh White. In addition to the above, Michigan picked up Andrew Novakov from Bottom’s former team, the Race Club; added backstrokers Alex Hoff and Connor McCarroll, and locals Michael Swain (breaststroke) and Sam Hoekstra (sprints).
“We are so excited about this class as we feel this lays a firm wide foundation for all our general events. In the years to come we need to get some specific help in a few events but we may find that a few of these guys surprise us.”
Judging from the potential transformation of Mike Bottom into a Mid-Distance coach, nothing would surprise us.
|6||79.68||Abdel Khalik, Hassaan|| ||Canada|
|8||76.53||Feeley, Ryan|| ||Rye, NY||Badger Swim Club|
|31||70.04||Gregg, Evan||Blacksburg, VA||Southwest Aquatic Team|
|43||67.97||Fletcher, Sean||Vienna, VA||Mason Makos|
|58||65.80||Huffman, Eric||Upper Arlington, OH|
|92||62.18||Willets, Roman||Toledo, OH||Greater Toledo Aquatic Club|
|110||60.89||Hoekstra, Sam||Grandville, MI||West Michigan Swimmers|
|159||57.15||Hoff, Alexander||Mercer Island, WA||King Aquatic Club|
|161||57.05||Wilson, Kevin||Short Hills, NJ||Jersey Gators|
|195||54.93||McCarroll, Connor||Portland, OR||Tualatin Hills Swim Club|
|321||47.37||Karedis, Demetri||Allentown, PA|
|333||46.52||Swain, Michael||Ann Arbor, MI||Club Wolverine|
|445||39.43||Coffin, Drew||Zeeland, MI|