Consistency from UNC’s relay teams and contributions from nearly every athlete helped the women’s swimming and diving teams score 839 points, good for a strong fourth-place finish in Greensboro under head coach Mark Gangloff.
“In order to score as many points as we did,” Gangloff said, “it takes a whole team effort, and everybody contributed. I think that we had everybody but two people score points at the meet which is what you need to do if want to be contending at a team competition like this.”
In five relay events, the UNC squads recorded two fifth-place finishes and three fourth-place finishes. The relay finishes were important sources of points for a Tar Heel team which saw just four top-five individual performances.
In her final event of the meet, standout sophomore diver Emily Grund scored a fifth-place finish to go along with top-10 finishes in each of her other two events on previous days.
First-year Gracyn Segard and Paige Burrell also made strong contributions in diving, as each recorded one top-15 finish, a promising sign from the young Tar Heels.
To lead the swimmers, junior Caroline Hauder finished in the top eight of each of her three events, including two of the team’s four top-five individual finishes.
In what will be their final ACC Championship meet at UNC, Bryanna Cameron and Robyn Dryer produced 50 and 27 points, respectively, for the team. Cameron’s best finish was eighth in the 200-meter butterfly while Dryer’s was tenth in the 1650-yard freestyle.
Who stood out?
“On the diving side of things, Emily Grund did a great job performing for our team and scoring a bunch of points,” Gangloff said. “On the swimming side of things, athletes like Grace Countie and Emma Cole and Caroline Hauder and Sophie Linder all did a great job. They have, in many ways this season, kind of put the team on their backs and been consistently performing at a high level.”
Expectations were high for Grund coming in to the meet after a stellar performance at the Championships last year as a first-year. While she was unable top that, she made it clear that she was among the best all-around divers in the field and will be dangerous for years to come.
Countie, a fellow sophomore, finished fourth in the 100-yard backstroke and had solid outings in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events.
Cole and Linder each contributed multiple top-10 performances for the Tar Heels. They had nearly identical results, as each finished 13th in their first event but bounced back with a seventh-pace finish in their second event. Both rounded out the meet with another top-10 finish on Saturday.
When was it decided?
“We were in a pretty tight team competition with Notre Dame, and the women showed up,” said Gangloff.
Despite a top-10 finish in the 1650-yard freestyle from veteran Dryer, Notre Dame had closed the gap behind UNC to just 6 points early on the final day of competition.
Two events later, in the 100-yard freestyle, three UNC swimmers finished in the top-12 to help the Tar Heels extend their advantage which they would not relinquish. Hauder led the trio, which included Cole and Countie, with a personal-best time of 48.18, good for fourth in the event.
Why does it matter?
“I think that going to a championship competition like this is a reward for everybody’s hard work,” Gangloff said, “so there are certainly a lot of smiles on the faces of people that have worked really hard and kind of had that all pay off. That’s what we do this thing for.”
UNC’s future is bright. With sophomores and juniors leading the way, promising showings from multiple first-years, and a young, passionate coach at the helm, there is a lot to be excited about in Chapel Hill. After a disappointing seventh-place finish at the Championships last year, the Tar Heels bounced back in impressive fashion.
When do they play next?
UNC’s women’s swimming and diving teams are set to host an invitational next Sunday as they grind towards the end of the season. NCAAs are slated for next month, so many swimmers are looking to punch their tickets to the event while they still have a chance.
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