When Caroline Baldwin, a senior on the North Carolina swimming and diving team, stepped up to the platform at the World University Games in Chinese Taipei, she knew the swimmers beside her were among the best she had ever faced.
“I knew the Russian girl I was swimming against was the real deal,” Baldwin said. “She had a really good swim in preliminaries and in the semi-finals. I knew the work was cut out for me, and I tried to keep my head down and to the wall and hopefully I turn around and see the scoreboard and see a one next to my name."
Baldwin did see the one next to her name, accomplishing a career-best time in the process to win the gold medal. Baldwin surpassed her previous best and school record of 25.13 seconds, which had been set at the North Carolina Senior Championships earlier this summer.
Baldwin collected a gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle, where she placed first with a time of 25.02 seconds. She narrowly beat out Russia’s Mariia Kameneva, who took silver with a time of 25.08 seconds.
Baldwin also picked up a relay medal in the swimming portion of the World University Games, which concluded on Saturday.