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The Daily Tar Heel

Newcomers show promise for UNC swimming and diving team

The meet was all about getting better.

The North Carolina swimming and diving team competed in the annual Blue vs. White meet Saturday, where newer swimmers showcased their ability to carry the team.

“Last year’s class was really good, and deep, and talented,” Coach Rich DeSelm said. “So the hit on the team was pretty significant (when they left). I think we recruited pretty well and we brought in a couple transfers who are going to help.

“And it opens up opportunities for other people who are already here who know they need to step up.”

Last season, the UNC men’s swim team finished 26th in the NCAA Championships, even though North Carolina was ranked No. 18 going into the finals.

Deselm said in March that the Tar Heels didn’t achieve the goals they had set for last season. But he sounds hopeful for this one.

“(One of our goals is) to build a great team culture, and they’re doing that,” DeSelm said. “We just need to work hard.”

At the NCAA Championships, UNC had nine All-America performers, including eight swimmers and one diver. With the loss of 20 seniors, the Tar Heels are young, but DeSelm said not to count them out.

“I wouldn’t say we’re forecasted to be in the top 10, but it’s a good goal,” DeSelm said. “First thing’s first: There’s a long way to go between now and that final outcome.”

Perhaps the Tar Heels are getting better. Transfer Michael Meyer won three races in the intrasquad meet, while Collier Cobb — one of UNC’s 17 first-years — won the 100-yard fly.

“We’ve been really working on having high energy in whatever we do,” Cobb said. “Whether it’s weights, dry land or practice, we always are supportive and cheering on one another — being really focused and determined in every aspect of swimming.

“We’re just going to keep powering through and keep racing, even as we go through that hard part of the season.”

DeSelm is looking to Cobb, Philip Perdue, Lucas Popp and J.T. Casey to fill the gap for the men by stepping up in sprint races.

On the women’s side, he expects Caroline Baldwin, Brooke Bauer and Sarah Hitchens to deliver.

Baldwin, who finished within one second of North Carolina’s 50-yard freestyle record on Saturday, acknowledged the need for the team’s younger swimmers to contribute.

“I’m really excited to see what everybody can do,” Baldwin said.

“Our freshman are super strong. They’ve jumped right onto our bandwagon ready to make their mark, and all the returning swimmers have more energy than last year, so I’m excited to see what we can do.”

@ColedelCharco

sports@dailytarheel.com

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