Current Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2014 02:34:43 -0500
For North Carolina’s swimmers and divers, Senior Day marked the last home meet of the year.
But senior Stephanie Eisenring will remember Saturday’s victory against Duke as her final competitive swim.
After coming back from a shoulder injury, she and coach Rich DeSelm decided that it would be in her long-term best interest to quit swimming before doing any more damage to herself.
She’ll be ending her season earlier than the other seniors, but she said she’s grateful for her time on the team.
“It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given,” she said. “It was honestly the best decision of my life.”
Her parting gift to the team was a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle en route to a 166-127 women’s victory, complementing a 164-128 victory for the men.
DeSelm said Saturday’s meet was important to recognize the seniors, but that the championship meets are more important.
The Tar Heels have one more conference meet before the ACC Championship.
“A lot of things were at play today — it’s very, very important to honor our seniors,” DeSelm said. “But we didn’t want to negate the fact that we’re here competing and racing, trying to position ourselves for things down the road.”
That’s exactly what they did. The women won 10 out of 16 events while the men won 12, dominating the meet.
Still, emotions ran high.
“It was emotional, but I tried not to cry about it,” Eisenring said. “I just wanted to have the best last meet with my team that I could and embrace everything and get that Carolina feeling for one last time.”
DeSelm said Senior Day is meaningful to him because he can tell how much the program has meant to his seniors.
“If it weren’t emotional then it might mean that they didn’t care, and I know that they do care,” he said.
Another accomplished senior, Tom Luchsinger, said he was trying to balance competition with the emotional aspect of the meet.
“We tried to take it in sections,” he said. “We knew the beginning part of the meet was going to be really emotional because of the senior ceremony.
“Then once that was over, it was time to swim, to do what we’ve been doing for ‘X’ amount of years.”
Like the rest of his team, Luchsinger is looking ahead to bigger meets. But he acknowledged that Saturday’s meet was special.
“To come in and win against Duke, you know it’s a schoolwide rivalry so it’s always a lot of fun to compete against them,” he said. “But it’s a bittersweet thing coming in and knowing it’s your last meet here.”
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