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UNC swimming and diving takes 10th at ACC Men's Championship

swim dive Virginia Valdas Abaliksta
Valdas Abaliksta swims breaststroe during the home meet against Virginia in Koury Natatorium on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. Both women and men lost to Virginia.

It was a weekend of records for North Carolina men’s swimming and diving in the ACC Men’s Championship. 

Although UNC finished 10th with a total score of 388.5 points, several Tar Heels beat their own personal records for an optimistic turnout. 

In 10 individual events, North Carolina swimmers combined for 25 new career records. There were nine UNC swimmers who made 14 finals appearances. All but two of those times were season-best performances. 

The competition was highlighted by stellar preliminary performances from Valdas Abaliksta and Sterling Smith, leading the Tar Heels to two qualification A finals.

Thursday’s most notable swim was by sophomore Eli Coan, who clocked a lifetime-best 19.75 in the 50-yard freestyle preliminaries. His swim landed him fifth all-time in UNC history for the event. 

In the consolation final, Coan swam a 19.85 that brought him to 16th overall for the 50-yard freestyle. 

Coan’s swim rallied UNC into more record breakers on Friday, when Abaliksta and Smith led North Carolina in points with their Championship A final performances.

The sophomore Abaliskta already held the No. 3 spot all-time for UNC in the 100-yard breaststroke records coming into Friday’s swim, but he went on to beat his previous time.

In the preliminaries, Abaliskta swam a personal record of 53.03 and later conquered that time in the 100-yard breaststroke finals, when he swam another personal record time of 52.92. The performance landed him seventh overall on the day in the event.

Although he hit two personal records in one day, Abaliskta was just short of the No. 2 spot for the UNC all-time record, which was set by Michael McBryan (52.56) in 2018. 

Smith also had a record breaking swim time in his first ever ACC Championships.  

The first-year swam a 53.08 in the 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries, following slightly behind Abaliskta. It was the fourth all-time best swim for North Carolina in the preliminaries. 

In the finals, Smith swam just behind Abaliskta again with a time of 53.64 to land him the eighth overall spot in the 100-yard breaststroke event.

In Friday’s 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard back competitions, Alvin Jiang had impressive swims that qualified him for consolation B finals in both events. 

His personal record time of 46.22 in the 100-yard fly preliminaries was also the third-fastest time in school history, and led him to 12th place overall (46.37) in the finals. 

In the 100-yard back preliminaries, Jiang’s solid performance brought him to another consolation B final swim. He tied in 12th place with a swim time of 46.69 in the final. 

Coming off his UNC record book performance on Thursday, sophomore Coan swam the sixth-best time (43.76) in Tar Heel history in the 100-yard freestyle preliminaries. The time landed him a spot in the B consolation finals, and he walked away 23rd overall in the event.

UNC senior Sean Burston had a season-best score of 346.90 in the one-meter diving board competition and finished fifth overall. Junior Bryan Allen also tallied points for North Carolina when he placed sixth on the platform diving board with a score of 321.15.

N.C. State, who dominated North Carolina in its last meeting, took the championship title with a team score of 1396.5 points. It’s the fifth straight season the Wolfpack have won the title. Behind N.C. State, Louisville took second place with 1135.5 points, followed by Virginia (1108).

The men’s last chance meet is on Sunday, March 10 in Chapel Hill. 

@jillianfellows2

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@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com