In their first dual meet of the new year, the UNC swimming and diving teams travelled to the Willis R. Casey Aquatics Center on Friday to face the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Both of North Carolina’s swim teams lost to the Wolfpack by large margins, while the diving teams dominated the Wolfpack.
During both the Tar Heels’ and Wolfpack’s first dual meet of 2021, the NC State men’s and women’s swim teams dominated the lanes, giving up only five first-place finishes to the Tar Heels.
The No. 4 NC State men’s team came out on top, defeating the No. 20 Tar Heels, 173-127. The No. 6 Wolfpack women’s team also defeated the No. 18 Tar Heels, winning by an even larger margin of 188-109.
In a stark contrast to the swimming teams, the UNC diving teams performed brilliantly, with the men’s team finishing with a 32-6 victory and the women’s team showing similar dominance with a margin of victory of 31-7. The Tar Heels swept first and second place finishes for every 1-meter and 3-meter event in both the men's and women's competitions.
Who stood out?
Senior swimmer Valdas Abaliksta just out-touched his NC State opponent for a first place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 53.92. Abaliksta also claimed victory in the 200-yard breaststroke, notching just ahead in the last 50 yards of the event for a time of 1:58.29.
Junior Tucker Burhans and first-year Boyd Poelke claimed two more first-place finishes for the Tar Heels, with Burhans taking the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 48.61. Poelke, meanwhile, soared into first place in the 100-yard butterfly at 47.38 and also secured second place in the 200-yard butterfly at 1:46.61.
For the Tar Heel women, the 400-yard freestyle relay team claimed the team’s only first place finish of the night with a time of 3:22.53. The sophomore trio of Ellie VanNote, Addison Smith, and Caroline Cooper notably claimed second, third and fourth in the 200-yard butterfly to gain the Tar Heels nine points.
For the men’s diving team, sophomore Alex Hart, junior Anton Down-Jenkins and sophomore Fabian Stepinski swept the podium for both the 1-meter and 3-meter events. Down-Jenkins won the 1-meter event with a 418.20, while Hart won the 3-meter event with a score of 393.75.
The women’s diving team also finished on top, with first-year star Aranza Vazquez leading the Tar Heels in the 1-meter and 3-meter events, earning scores of 330.45 and 355.20, respectively. Junior Emily Grund followed Vazquez in both events for second place, and senior Taylor Hockenberry secured the win by achieving fourth and third place finishes in the 1-meter and 3-meter events.
When was it decided?
Despite the disparity in rankings, the Tar Heels kept up with the Wolfpack’s elite talent, cracking the top three finishes in nearly every swimming event. However, NC State gained an edge in the distance and IM events, with those scores contributing more than enough points to seal the Tar Heels' defeat.
The diving teams, though, won by a landslide that was apparent early on, and by the end of the night, only one Wolfpack diver was able to crack the top three of any event in the men's and women's competition, respectively.
Why does it matter?
After their season got cancelled last spring, UNC hasn't had it any easier, with many of the team's competitions getting postponed. Despite these challenges, the swimmers displayed toughness against a highly-ranked ACC opponent. The diving teams have continued to triumph over their opponents, dominating over all of their ACC competitors thus far.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will host the University of Virginia Cavaliers at Koury Natatorium in a week's time, on Friday, Jan. 22 at 4:00 pm.
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