UNC men's and women's swimming and diving teams in second place after day one of competition

Brett Nagle and Matt Kwatyra got the North Carolina men’s swimming team started on the right track Thursday with back-to-back first-place finishes at the Janis Hape Dowd Nike Cup at Koury Natatorium.

The event, which started Thursday, runs through Saturday.

Nagle — a senior co-captain — started things off strong for the men in the 500-yard freestyle final. His first-place time of 4:24.04 was more than four seconds quicker than his preliminary time, 4:28.71.

“I was lucky enough to be in the last seeded heat this morning, so I was able to know how much effort I needed to give to get a spot in the final,” Nagle said. “And then I laid it out on the line tonight.”

Coach Rich DeSelm wasn’t surprised with Nagle’s performance.

“He has tremendous work ethic,” DeSelm said. “He very rarely has a bad practice, and he’s almost always in the lead in his group.”

Kwatyra kept the momentum going for the Tar Heels with a first-place finish in the very next event for the men.

Kwatyra finished the 200-yard individual medley final in 1:48.54, also taking off a good amount of time from his preliminary time — 1:52.21.

Kwatyra’s time might have been a bit more surprising for DeSelm, but not because he didn’t think the freshman had it in him.

“Matt is a powerful swimmer,” DeSelm said. “He is just darn good — 1:48 is pretty good for this time of year. We haven’t seen a lot of that level 200 IM at this point in the season … I think it gives him confidence that his training is working.”

A freshman from Canada, Kwatyra has had to adjust to college life as well as better competition in the pool.

“The first month was a little tough to get used to, but after that it was fine,” Kwatyra said. “(The competition) is definitely better. In Canada we don’t have these kinds of dual meets, (and) it’s not as intense.”

The women’s team didn’t have as strong individual performances, but the team took first place in both the 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard medley relay and matched the men’s second place overall standing.

Both the men and women’s teams are trailing N.C. State in the event, but they have a chance to make up ground this weekend when more players will be available to swim.

Because of the looming Ohio State Invitational, which starts on Nov. 30, DeSelm didn’t want his swimmers to miss much school this week, and he’s looking forward to Saturday when both teams will have more depth.

“We would like to have more people swimming at night, but we made the choice to prioritize the Ohio State meet,” he said. “So a little different approach for us in the Nike Cup this year. (I’m) looking forward to Saturday when we will have everybody competing and see what we can do with team energy.”

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