“There’s always the intimidation factor, but you can’t change the fact that Texas is one of the best teams in the country,” DeSelm said. “We also can’t dispute the fact that we’ve been swimming really well and diving really well.”
UNC is entering the meet fresh off of a dominant performance against Louisville. Three Tar Heels received ACC Swimming and Diving Performers of the Week honors — senior swimmer Ally Hardesty, junior diver Jack Nyquist, and sophomore diver Elissa Dawson — and DeSelm expects them to once again rise to the occasion against the Longhorns.
The Tar Heels are going to need their depth to step up if they want to be competitive against the Longhorns this weekend. The Texas men’s team, coached by Eddie Reese, boasts 14 All-Americans, including four members of the 2015-2016 USA Swimming National Team. Reese, in his 38th year as head coach, is the only coach in the sport's history to win NCAA team titles in four separate decades.
“Some are arguing that this Texas men’s team might be the best college team ever assembled,” DeSelm said. “I think in every event they have somebody that’s faster than we are, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot for Friday. It just means they’ve got a lot of talent.”
DeSelm is particularly excited to see how UNC senior Sam Lewis performs in the 100-yard butterfly. In the 2015 NCAA Men’s Championship, the Longhorns qualified six-of-eight swimmers for the final of the 100. Lewis was one of the two non-Texas finalists, finishing fifth in the event, while Texas sophomore Joseph Schooling returns as the defending champion.
On the women’s side, the Tar Heels are ranked higher, but, historically, have not fared well against the nine-time national champion Longhorns. Junior Abby Fisher, junior Katie Munch, junior Sarah Koucheki, and Hardesty each posted season-best performances last weekend for the Tar Heels and hope to maintain that level of success against Texas on Friday.
On paper, the Tar Heels appear to be the underdogs, but DeSelm welcomes the opportunity to compete against one of the best programs in the country.
“We’d love the student body to come out and fill the stands. If you’re okay walking to a basketball game, then come on, because we are right next door,” DeSelm said.