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The Daily Tar Heel

Six Tar Heels earn All-American honors at NCAA men's swimming and diving championship

North Carolina swimming and diving team finishes in 18th place overall

The men’s team finished in 18th place. It was their fourth Top-20 finish in the past six years, but first since 2012.

Nine Tar Heels qualified for the meet, mostly upperclassmen, with only one freshman and one sophomore.

Junior Ben Colley was part of the core of six juniors, five of whom have competed in the NCAAs the past three years.

“We haven’t performed as well as we would have liked our freshman and sophomore year,” Colley said. “This year I think we still didn’t do quite as well as we would have liked, but it was a step in the right direction, and I think a lot of that has to do with more experience.”

Colley said that comfort in the high level of competition goes a long way.

“I think the biggest thing transitioning from ACCs to NCAAs is you have to understand that you belong to swim there,” Colley said. “It can be a very intimidating meet for underclassmen because it’s the fastest meet in the world besides maybe the Olympic trials for the U.S.”

The young Tar Heels certainly proved they belonged. Sophomore Jack Nyquist earned his second All-American finish in the one-meter dive.

He becomes the first UNC diver in 67 years to finish as an All-American in consecutive years.

Henry Campbell, the lone qualifying freshman for UNC, had an impressive meet as well. He finished with an All-American performance and a school record in the 500-yard freestyle, as well as a career-best time in the 1650-yard freestyle.

He was one of six Tar Heels to earn All-American honors.

“I think he just has grit,” Coach Rich DeSelm said. “Competitive fire, passion and grit — it’s just being tough when you have to be tough.”

Campbell credited some of his success to upperclassman Sam Lewis, who helped him settle down for his race.

“He really stepped up to kind of put the team on his back,” Campbell said. “Seeing someone like him step up and go that fast kind of made me believe that if he could do it, why couldn’t I?”

Lewis was the highest placing Tar Heel, finishing fifth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 45.66 seconds.

“I mean, he was incredible,” Campbell said. “He was fifth in the 100 fly and the top four guys all went to the University of Texas. They’ve got something special going on there. They won the meet handily.”

“But Sam being the best butterflyer in the country that doesn’t go to the University to Texas, that’s pretty awesome.”

DeSelm hopes Lewis and the other seven returning NCAA competitors bring that same inspiration to the rest of the team for next season — he wants them to bring their experience back to Chapel Hill.

“I’ve asked them to do that,” DeSelm said, “so that more of the team gets excited by what their NCAA teammates went through.”

sports@dailytarheel.com

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