College Swimming and Diving: Bylander caps off career as All-American
Former Brainerd Warrior Michael Bylander enjoys success at NCAA Division III Nationals.
INDIANAPOLIS — Michael Bylander saved his best for last.
The former Brainerd Warrior and current senior at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire earned three All-American honors, including a second-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke at the NCAA Division III Championships March 16-19 in Indianapolis.
It was in fact Bylander’s last career swim that should have him in the UWEC record books for years to come. In the 200-yard breaststroke, Bylander went 1:57.74 in the prelims to find himself in second place. In the afternoon championship finals, he went faster at 1:56.81 to remain in second and earn All-American honors.
Jason Hamilton of Emory swam a 1:55.83 to clip Bylander.
“It means a lot to me,” Bylander said. “Finishing the race and seeing second place was an amazing end to my swim career. It was my final race ever and to be so highly ranked in the nation was almost overwhelming. It was the accumulation of 14 years of training and dedication to swimming. It culminated in a once-in-lifetime event. To be able to go that time and set a new school record in that race, it all hit me really hard. It was quite the amazing experience.”
Going into the national meet, Bylander was seeded fourth in the 200 breaststroke. Bylander was seeded eighth in his first event of the meet, which was the 200 individual medley.
He posted a 1:48.27 prelim time that had him in fifth place going into the championship final. In the finals, Bylander slipped one spot as he recorded a 1:48.90 to finish sixth.
Garrett Clasen of Chicago won the event in 1:46.19.
“In swimming, the top eight are All-American, but you have to get into the top eight in the morning and then you race again at night for the final place,” Bylander said. “Being in that eighth spot, I didn’t want to lose out on that on my first race of the meet. I was really nervous, but I just swam my race smart. I was able to go into the finals ranked fifth and finished sixth.
“It was a phenomenal experience and it was a race I didn’t know if I was really expecting to get top eight in, but I knew I was just going to swim my race how I wanted to and it ended up getting me sixth in the nation. That was a great start to the meet.”
Bylander swam a 54.14 in the 100 breaststroke prelims to find himself in seventh place and once again in the championship finals. That’s where he stayed in the finals to earn yet another All-American accolade.
“I was happy with my time,” Bylander. “In swimming, you always want better. I was 54.1 and it would have been nice to be 53.99, but I was very happy with my time. Because I was needed for the team in other events, I didn’t train the 100 breast at all during the season. It was just an event that I didn’t train my hardest for and I still did well in so I’m happy with that.”
Bylander was also part of a 13th-place 200 medley relay team that posted a 1:29.68 and a 13th-place 400 medley relay team that recorded a 3:17.98.
“I’m extremely satisfied,” Bylander said. “Being able to compete in high school at Brainerd school was an amazing experience. I was so glad I was able to continue to compete in college. I was always a kid who didn’t know if D3 was going to be good enough. I had D1 aspirations but decided D3 was a better fit for me and I’m excited that I chose that because I was able to be a leader on the team and be able to represent my team at nationals very well. I feel a sense of accomplishment looking back on my career.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .