UNC swimming and diving handles travel and adversity well

North Carolina swimmers and divers aren’t used to racing at this time of year.

The Tar Heels are in the midst of heavy training and haven’t yet tapered their regimens to prepare for meets.

But for coach Rich DeSelm, this weekend’s Ohio State Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, was one more chance to gain valuable experience before the season’s home stretch after the new year.

“It’s proven to be a really positive experience,” DeSelm said. “The travel, the schedule and the limited amount of rest between prelims and finals have all been challenging. But facing a little bit of adversity is good for us.”

DeSelm said the challenge provided an opportunity for newcomers to step up and for “stalwarts” to emerge.

One of those consistent performers, junior Stephanie Peacock, set an NCAA record in the 1650-yard freestyle on Sunday with a time of 15:37.06.

Peacock, the reigning NCAA champion in the event, beat her own mark that she set in last year’s championship race.

“I had to keep looking back at the scoreboard to see if the time was actually real,” Peacock said.

It wasn’t the only record Peacock broke this weekend. She also eclipsed the ACC record in the 500-yard freestyle in a much more tightly contested race.

Peacock barely out-touched Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel, who medaled twice in last summer’s London Olympics.

“I wasn’t expecting Beisel to go out that fast, so all I was trying to do was stay with her,” Peacock said. “I think the way she raced really helped push me to get a personal best.”

Another reliable swimmer, senior Tom Luchsinger, led the way for the Tar Heel men. He faced a considerable challenge on Saturday, swimming both the 400-yard individual medley and the 200-yard freestyle.

As a senior captain, Luchsinger said he was impressed with how the younger swimmers handled the big-time meet despite fatigue from the early-season practices.

“I think a lot of our freshman learned that, despite being exhausted from really hard training, you can swim really fast,” Luchsinger said. “And we all learned that we can beat people we’re not supposed to beat and break some records even without being rested.”

DeSelm was also pleased to see some of the freshmen make a statement. But he noted he would like to see more intensity across the board, which will be a key factor when meets resume. “We need to have a little bit more emotion and show a little bit more passion for the sport and the opportunity to compete,” DeSelm said.

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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