The Smith Center will roar when the North Carolina men’s basketball team meets Duke in March.
But Koury Natatorium, just a few steps from the Smith Center, was roaring Friday evening when the North Carolina men’s and women’s swimming teams swept the Duke Blue Devils.
The women’s team secured a victory Friday with a score of 175-133, and the men’s team triumphed in a 176-90 win. The win over Duke was one of two for the women's team this weekend, as No. 5 UNC defeated No. 12 N.C. State 155.5-144.5 Saturday. The No. 20 men's team lost to the No. 8 Wolfpack 180-118.
Emotions were high Friday night in the last home dual meet of the season for UNC. It was also the teams’ Senior Night.
“We want to be a little bit hyped and a little bit anxious and excited,” Coach Rich DeSelm said. “Duke is one of the original members of the ACC, so we swim them every year. There should be some anxiousness, some nervousness, because that helps athletic performance.”
While the rivalry with Duke dominates most of UNC athletics, senior Danielle Siverling said the Blue Devils aren’t the teams' main swimming rival.
“(UVa.’s) been our biggest swimming rival for a while — we’re the top two teams in the ACC typically,” she said. “So they’ve been first, we’ve been second for a while at this point so that was the team to upset for us.”
But Siverling said Duke is on the rise.
“Duke is up and coming now that they’re getting funding next year,” she said. “They’re going to be a lot better, but just lack of funding has kinda made them less of a rival.”
The Tar Heels had a busy couple of weeks, beating Navy and UVa. away, before coming into the Duke meet.
“The spring is pretty intense as far as competition goes, it’s kinda just one after the other and traveling to Virginia, it was tiring,” said senior Patrick Myers, who placed first in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:47.78.
Both Tar Heel victories Friday were influenced by several career bests by multiple swimmers.
In the 200-yard freestyle, three swimmers on the men's team finished in the top three. Ben Colley and Phillip Perdue, who finished first and second in the event, set career bests with times of 1:37.63 and 1:37.97, respectively.
Sophomore Katie McKay finished the night with two career bests. She won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 23.18 and placed second in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 50.81.
"Watching Kate McKay go best times in two of her events, and that has been like two years in the making because last year she kinda had the season she didn’t really want to have, and she worked so hard," Siverling said. "So it’s really cool to watch my teammates do that kind of stuff."
Behind such efforts, the Tar Heels jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, cruising to overwhelming victories by both teams.
“It was a great win for us. Duke came in and we kinda dominated from start to finish, which was great," Myers said. "They have a great program, they’ve been building over the past couple years. We had a lot of emotion coming into the meet because it was Senior Night — my last meet here."
And on Friday, Myers and the rest of the seniors were the ones bringing the noise as they joined in the alma mater at the meet's end.
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