By Dan D’Addona.
Siobhan Haughey became one of the NCAA’s elite swimmers with her breakout performance in the 200-yard freestyle final at last year’s championships.
The Michigan sophomore was one of four swimmers to finish the race faster than 1:42 in what became the race of the meet with a Katie Ledecky-Mallory Comerford tie for the title.
Haughey finished just behind Simone Manuel in one of the greatest races in NCAA history.
It continues to inspire Haughey.
“Definitely. There were so many Olympians and top world swimmers in the 200 free final. To be able to be part of that final and swim a best time, it gives me a lot of confidence that I belong,” she said.
Haughey was a 2016 Olympian for Hong Kong, but it was that race that was her true breakout.
She build on that performance with a strong showing at the world championships and the World University Games, carrying into her junior season at Michigan.
“After NCAAs, throughout the whole summer I was training here. It was really good training. The transition to short-course yards to long-course meters is always kind of difficult, but I did well at Worlds and WUGs,” she said. “I could push myself even harder because I was physically stronger than I was last year.
“I really have to trust the process. My coaching staff knows my goal and will do anything to get me there. The most important thing is to remember your goal and the hard work will pay off.”
Haughey had a fun start to the season with back-to-back meets against Louisville, where she went head-to-head with Comerford.
Comerford won the first battle and Haughey won the second.
“That was really fun. I love racing so much. It was really great that we got to be suited up and swim at a fast meet so early in the season. Because of that meet, I knew were I was and what I needed to do to get where I need to be,” Haughey said. “They filmed our races (of the first matchup) so we came back and looked at the videos. That really helped. After SMU, we came back for a week of training and went to Louisville and we got to do it all over again. It was really fun working on a few things and they seemed to work. I have always been focusing on my underwater kicks but that is the only thing I was thinking about at Louisville. I tried to have a better push off the wall. I know I definitely improved a lot in that area.”
Haughey is the quiet leader that has helped propel the Wolverines into a top-five program and they look to prove it at this week’s NCAA championships.
Haughey proved it at the Big Ten Championships as Haughey led Michigan to a third conference championship in a row, despite swimming with a foot injury.
“It was just such an amazing experience. Each year is so different,” Haughey said. “I think most of it was because I wanted to score as many points as possible for Michigan. There were times I had doubts (because of the injury), but I had teammates supporting me and letting me know I can do it. I hadn’t been doing underwater kicks because of my foot, but the IM is all underwater kicks. I didn’t really feel it during the race because of all the adrenaline. But afterward, it did bother me a bit, but I managed to swim through the whole meet — and I did pretty well, so I am really happy with it. It was hard sitting out because I love racing so much, but it gave me a different perspective.”
Haughey won the Big Ten title in the 200 IM, 200 free and was runner-up in the 100 free. She is seeded sixth (47.20), third (1:41.66) and sixth (1:53.48), respectively, in those events at NCAAs.
“Right now, I am feeling better than I did at Big Tens, so I am looking forward to NCAAs,” she said.
With a healthy Haughey, the Wolverines could be poised for a huge finish. Even if she isn’t quite 100 percent, that won’t stop her from turning in some stellar times, as she proved at Big Tens.
“I definitely would like to make A finals in all three of my individual events because I haven’t done that yet. Hopefully I can do that and have some best times,” she said. “The idea of swimming for the team can help you go through anything.”