Standing behind the blocks with her back against the wall, North Carolina swimmer Cari Blalock surveyed the pool.
Her team faced a nine-point deficit with two events left in Saturday morning’s Blue and White intrasquad scrimmage. Some swimmers would be overwhelmed in circumstances like this, but for Blalock, an All-American honorable mention and an ACC champion swimmer, this is when she does her best work.
The referee signaled for the 200 individual medley to start. Blalock stood poised on the edge of the block, muscles tensed and quivering, waiting for the green light to signal go.
At the buzzer, she dove into the water and surfaced at the head of the pack. She was in a dogfight with her teammate in lane four, but dug in, gradually widening her lead with each successive lap. She finished the race in first place by a wide margin, setting a new record in the process for the annual scrimmage.
“She’s able to handle competition really well,” coach Rich DeSelm said.“She understands the importance of rising to the occasion when the occasion arises.”