“What (the team) did is, they ramped up their performances at the end, which is what you want to do,” Gangloff said.
Bolstered by the support of the crowd and their teammates, junior swimmer Valdas Abaliksta and sophomore swimmer Grace Countie had big performances against the Midshipmen.
Abaliksta won the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events, and was a member of a quartet that won the 200-yard medley relay. Countie won the 100-yard backstroke and 50-yard freestyle events, and also swam with the winning team of the 200-yard medley relay.
“The energy today was really good, that was definitely one of the factors, so I did pretty well ... the energy helped to push me as much as it can,” Abaliksta said.
The junior also said he credits the fans for giving the team the strength needed to persevere. Although the team did practice over the break, Abaliksta said it was refreshing to be in front of a cheering crowd again — which included a large group of kids, invested in the meet from the start, from the North Carolina Aquatic Club.
“It’s kind of amazing," he said. "I don’t think I’ve seen that many people in the stands before, so it’s actually really cool seeing that many people care about UNC swimming.”
Countie told the same story — she was excited to be competing again, motivated by the Tar Heels' positive attitude.
“The team energy and the team culture this year has been so positive and so uplifting," Countie said. "Everybody’s always looking out for each other ... it’s a good, reassuring thing.”
For the diving team, sophomore Emily Grund, who recently competed at the USA Diving Winter Nationals, won the 1-meter event. She also credits the passion and energy of her team and her fans for pushing her to be her best.
Despite the high profile of a national diving competition, Grund said she prefers being around her UNC teammates — because of their close bonds — and UNC's fans.
"Just from the support of all the parents, and the fans, and the team and their energy," Grund said. "… We feed off of it, and we use it in our competitions, so it’s a lot of fun.”
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