The North Carolina swimming and diving teams hosted the Duke Blue Devils in Koury Natatorium this past Friday for senior night. Both teams finished on top, with the No. 24 women’s team winning by a score 190-110 and the No. 20 men’s team winning 219.5-80.5.
The Tar Heel divers started out with a bang, sweeping the women’s 1-meter podium and the men’s 3-meter podium. The UNC women’s team was led by first-year Aranza Vazquez-Montano and junior Emily Grund, who stole first and second place for both events. Junior Anton Down-Jenkins and sophomore Alex Hart won first and second for the men's team, respectively.
North Carolina’s swim teams continued the domination, only giving up two first-place finishes for the men and four for the women.
The teams started out strong with the 200-yard medley relays. The women’s team of juniors Grace Countie, Sophie Linder, Lilly Higgs and Heidi Lowe led the Blue Devils the entire race for a time of 1:37.90. In the following event, the men’s relay team of junior Tucker Burhans, senior Valdas Abaliksta, first-year Boyd Poelke and senior Jack Messenger just out-touched Duke in an exciting race for a time of 1:26.07.
Head Coach Mark Gangloff wanted for the team to perform well across the board, and that they did. For the women, Countie led the Heels in the 100-yard freestyle and backstroke events, while sophomore Ellie VanNote won the 100-yard butterfly. For the men, Abaliksta dominated both the100 and 200-yard breaststroke, and Poelke sailed to the top in every butterfly event.
An electric 400-yard freestyle relay rounded out the night, with both the men’s and women’s A and B relay teams coming out on top in both.
Who stood out?
After being named ACC Diver of the Week for the second consecutive time last week, Vazquez continued her outstanding performances in the 1-meter and 3-meter events, scoring 315.50 and 393.08, respectively.
For the men’s swim team, Poelke was notable for securing top finishes in the 100 and 200-yard butterfly. His stellar race in the 200-yard butterfly landed him a top 10 spot in the ACC on the year.
As Tar Heels performed well in all four strokes, distance freestyle was the obvious standout. Sophomore Addison Smith made waves in for the women’s team, winning the 500 and 1000-yard freestyle events and finishing the 1000 with a personal record time of 9:56.67.
The men’s swimmers also showcased their endurance by stealing 1st-3rd places in the 100 and 500-yard freestyle events led by junior Tomas Sungaila and senior Dimitrios Dimitriou, respectively.
When was it decided?
The energy from the swimmers on deck echoed through the Natatorium as the Tar Heels racked up first-place finishes in the first nine events. From the 50-yard freestyle to the 1000-yard freestyle, North Carolina gave unbeatable performances in both speed and endurance. The Tar Heels kept their A and B relays stacked as well, hardly giving up second place finishes to the Blue Devils.
The UNC divers performed similarly, as the top men’s and women’s divers did not let Duke crack the top two scores in each event.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels came into this meet hungry for another win at home after they dominated the South Carolina Gamecocks last Sunday. For the team’s eleven seniors, this meet would be their last regular season meet in Koury Natatorium. The stakes were high against long-time rival Duke, but UNC's teams came together to win the meet by a large margin.
When do they play next?
The teams will have approximately two weeks of training before they travel to Greensboro for the ACC Championships Feb. 17-20.
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