Freshmen swimmers show out at first collegiate competition

For nearly half of the North Carolina swimming and diving teams, Saturday’s tri-meet in Columbia, S.C., marked their first taste of collegiate competition.

The UNC teams swam against both University of South Carolina and Texas A&M University in their first meet of the season.

The men’s team defeated South Carolina 168-132 and Texas A&M 178.5-121.5.

The women beat South Carolina 198-99 but lost to the Aggies 174.5-123.5.

In this meet, coach Rich DeSelm was interested in the new swimmers’ performances.

“I wanted to really see how our freshmen and new transfer swimmers did,” he said.

Overall, six new women swimmers placed in the top five in at least one event, and 11 new swimmers on the men’s team also placed in the top five.

Freshman Lauren Earp placed second in the 100-yard freestyle, third in the 200-yard freestyle and fifth in the 50-yard freestyle. She also was a part of the second-place 400-yard freestyle relay team along with Stephanie Peacock, Ally Hardesty and Danielle Siverling.

Saturday’s meet was Earp’s first — and she said her nerves were a factor.

“You’re nervous because you want to be able to perform for the team and you want to do your part and make sure the team does well,” she said.

In spite of her nerves, Earp swam competitively.

“I owe that to my team,” she said. “They really motivated me and proved to me that I could do it and had no reason to be nervous.”

For the men’s team, the new swimmers were essential to their victory.

Freshman Nic Graesser won the 100-yard backstroke, and sophomore transfer David Speese won the 100-yard breaststroke.

The closest event of the meet was the men’s 400-yard freestyle relay. UNC won the race by one one-hundredth of a second. The Tar Heels’ relay team included three freshmen ­— Logan Heck, Sean Sullivan and Sam Lewis.

DeSelm said he was satisfied with the team’s first performance of the season.

“I was pleasantly pleased overall with the team’s results and how they conducted themselves on a travel trip with regards to so many new swimmers on the team,” he said.

For the women sophomore Siverling won both the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events. Peacock, a junior, placed first in the 1,000-yard freestyle as well as the 500-yard freestyle.

On the men’s team, senior captain Brett Nagle won the 1,000-yard freestyle, and sophomore Patrick Myers took first in the 200-yard backstroke.

Nagle credits the freshmen with Saturday’s victory.

“Without the freshmen it could have been a completely different meet,” he said. “But they stepped up really well for their first collegiate meet, and it was really fun to see.”

Nagle says the team is already very close, encouraging each other to swim their best times.

“We’re not just swimming for ourselves out there, we’re swimming for each other.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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