Depth unclear for UNC men's swimming and diving following NCAA Championships
It has not gotten much easier since then. While the women’s swimming and diving team finished 17th in the NCAA Championships, the men’s side finished 36th in the Championships, which concluded on Saturday, with a total of six points. Junior Henry Campbell was the lone swimmer to earn All-America honors, placing 11th in the 500-yard freestyle.
It was a disheartening result for the team after a season full of struggles. The Tar Heels finished 1-6 on the year — including losses against four teams that finished in the top-20 at the NCAA Championships — and hoped their grueling schedule would benefit them come NCAA Championships time.
It was not the case, as the Tar Heels were unable to secure a point after day one of the NCAAs.
In analyzing the results, DeSelm boils the performance down to recruitment.
“We need a combination of higher-caliber swimmers in the program either through recruiting or development,” he said. “We need to give them enough experience through high-level competition to be comfortable in a highly competitive, highly intense swimming and diving environment, which the NCAAs is.”
Not only must the Tar Heels continue to build their roster, they also must rebuild, with nine seniors on the men’s team set to graduate this year. Former All-ACC diver Jack Nyquist is one of those people they must replace. But Nyquist is not concerned about the team’s future.
“Henry Campbell is going to be back next year leading the team,” Nyquist said. “He is a super talented guy. We have a lot of young talent that needs to realize their potential.”
DeSelm knows it will not be easy to replace all the leaving talent, but he is confident in his staff’s ability to bring the right pieces into the program. With diving coach Abel Sanchez’s help, DeSelm is confident the program will continue to grow.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that we are not aggressively recruiting,” he said. “We text, we email, we receive phone calls, we go to clubs and visit practices even when we can’t speak to students. We are trying to do everything that we are allowed to do and we are trying to reach out to the highest-level recruits that we can.”
One thing that cannot be taken away from the program is the mutual respect between the team and the coaching staff.
“Nothing changes depending on how you finish,” Nyquist said. “Having the support group behind us means a lot. My main takeaway is this program really cares about its student athletes and regardless of how we finish up we will always be backed up by our coaches with 100 percent support.”
Campbell, who will look to lead next year’s team and build off the momentum of this year, echoed the same sentiment.
“The support from the coaching staff means a lot,” he said. “They really care about us as individuals in addition to what we do as athletes. They are there for you beyond just in the pool, and it makes you want to work harder for them.”
“Having that support behind you gives you confidence with the people around.”