UNC's swim and dive first-years are providing head coach Rich DeSelm with confidence.
That confidence was on full display Friday night as North Carolina tamed South Carolina at Koury Natatorium. The women's team won by a score of 157-143, and the men's team won by a score of 159.50-140.50. UNC now has two victories in just as many meets this season.
The 2018-2019 campaign has seen its share of fresh faces as 12 swimmers graduated this past year, replaced by 11 recruits.
Coming off a solid Oct.5 victory against East Carolina, the first-years were able to push back against the Gamecocks.
The most notable first-year performers were Sophie Lindner from Matthews, North Carolina and Emily Grund from Keller, Texas.
Against ECU, Lindner showed why she was recruited by DeSelm as her squad finished first in the 200-yard medley relay.
Lindner continued that standard of excellence on Friday as her 200-yard medley relay team took first place yet again. Lindner carried that momentum and dominance throughout the night as she also won the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke, as well as the 100-yard butterfly.
Her impressive performance led to her being named ACC Women's Swimmer of the Week on Monday.
Lindner said the transition to college athletics has taught her a few things that have made her a stronger swimmer.
“The main thing I've been really focusing on is just sleeping and making sure I get really good fuel before and after practices," Lindner said. "And really just coming into practice every day and giving it my all and making sure every day I’m getting better at least at one thing."
Lindner also credited her teammates and coaches as a part of her early success.
“I think the main thing at the meets is definitely the team," she said. "I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without all these people behind me and just cheering me on and getting really excited about my race."
DeSelm said Lindner has been consistently solid at every time out, from the intrasquad meet to her performance against South Carolina.
"She's one of those ones that’s dialed in every day," DeSelm said. "You can see her improving day by day at practice, and it's infectious."
Against ECU, Grund placed second in the 1-meter dive and first in the 3-meter dive. Against South Carolina, she built on that success, finishing in second and first, respectively, in the same events.
Head diving coach Abel Sanchez said Grund is a hard worker who is only going to get better.
“She trains hard," Sanchez said. "I think because she trains hard she competes well."
Grund credits her early success to her change in attitude toward practice. It was this time last year when she was coming off an injury, which changed her approach.
“Honestly, I just try to go into every practice every single day pretending that it’s a meet," Grund said. "Just mentally preparing myself every single day. Not just the day before, not just the day of, every single day because honestly that’s the best thing you can do for yourself.”
DeSelm is optimistic about the team’s future moving forward this year.
“So, 2-0, we’ll take it," he said. "It doesn’t define the season. If we were 0-2 we’d still be forging ahead, trying to be great and working hard."
@DTHSports | email@example.com
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.