The men also had a stellar outing. The Tar Heels (3-3) finished first in all but four of the 16 men’s events.
“We don’t have that many home meets left,” head coach Rich DeSelm said. “So, it’s pretty special to be here, in our own pool. We haven’t done a ton of winning in the last year or this year in terms of dual meets, so I know that (the team) wanted to get two wins.”
Who stood out?
Senior Caroline Baldwin was impressive, as usual. Baldwin was on the women’s 200-yard medley team that took first place with a time of 1:40.41. The medley consisted of Baldwin and first-years Caroline Hauder, Emma Cole and Maddie Smith.
Baldwin also picked up a first place finish in the women’s 100-yard backstroke, swimming in with a time of 53.89 — over two seconds faster than the second place finisher. And to cap off an already superb day, the Westfield, New Jersey native finished first in the women’s 100-yard freestyle with a time of 49.87.
“It’s just fun to be racing again with the whole team,” Baldwin said. “We had a good training trip down in Florida, so we got a lot of good training in. Every swimmer’s favorite part about swimming is racing, so it’s fun to finally be able to do it again.”
A few other Tar Heels also won more than one event on the women’s side. Aside from swimming on the winning women’s 200-yard relay team, Hauder took first in both the women’s 100-yard breaststroke and the women’s 200-yard backstroke.
Senior Elissa Dawson grabbed first place in both the women’s one-meter diving and the women’s three-meter diving. She scored a 311.95 in the one-meter dive and 342.30 in the three-meter dive.
“It’s not really the time to peak yet, because you want to wait until ACCs and NCAAs,” Dawson said. “But I think we’re at the point in the season where we’re doing well.”
For the men, senior J.T. Casey and first-years Alvin Jiang and Valdas Abaliksta led the way. The trio was on the men’s 200-yard medley team — along with junior Nick Loomis — that won first place with a time of 1:29.16. All three swimmers earned first-place honors in other events as well.
Casey touched the wall first in the men’s 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.35. He also finished first in the men’s 100-yard freestyle with a time of 45.24.
In addition to being on the winning men’s 200-yard relay team, Jiang won the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 48.26. He looked like anything but a first-year as he also took first place in the men’s 100-yard butterfly with a time of 48.57.
“(This performance) took a lot of mental toughness,” Jiang said. “The mentality of the whole team brought me up to get ready to race. We came out with a mission and things really fell into place.”
Abalikstra also looked like a seasoned veteran. The first-year from Lithuania took home first place honors in the men’s 100-yard backstroke with a time of 54.54. He also grabbed first place in the men’s 200-yard breastroke with a time of 2:00.73.
When was it decided?
The Tar Heels put this one away early. Out of the first 10 events of the day, a UNC swimmer won first place in eight.
Although both the men and women beat their opponents by sizable margins, the women absolutely destroyed the competition. The Tar Heel women held both Penn State and Navy to under 100 points, while scoring 200 or more against both.
Why does it matter?
Having this strong of a showing after coming off extended time off from the holidays should give the Tar Heels some confidence as they head into ACC play.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will compete against conference opponents starting next weekend. The Tar Heels will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia on Jan. 20 to take on the Virginia Cavaliers.
The No. 21 UNC women will face off against the No. 11 Virginia women, while the UNC men will square off against the No. 21 Virginia men.