The North Carolina swimming and diving teams were at the Koury Natatorium in Chapel Hill on Wednesday for their home opener, where they lost to N.C. State.
All four diving events were won by Tar Heels. More specifically by sophomore Aranza Vazquez, junior Paige Burrell, as well as senior, and Olympian Anton Down-Jenkins who won both the one meter and three meter events.
After this strong start, UNC went a while without a win. In fact, N.C. State won the following events in succession: women’s 200 yard medley relay, men’s 200 yard medley relay, women’s 600 yard freestyle, men’s 600 yard freestyle, women’s 50 yard butterfly, men’s 50 yard butterfly, women’s 50 yard backstroke, men’s 50 yard backstroke, and the women’s 50 yard breaststroke.
While there were still many more events to come after this run of losses for the Tar Heels, the damage had been done on the scoreboard and the deficit was insurmountable.
Nonetheless, UNC swept the remaining breaststroke events, but N.C. State did the same for the butterfly as well as winning the majority of the remaining backstroke and freestyle races.
In the end, the N.C. State men and women won 231.50-169.50 and 220-178, respectively.
Some of the closest finishes included graduate student Valdas Abaliksta’s win in the 50 yard breaststroke by 0.01 seconds, senior Grace Countie’s second place finish in the 50 yard breaststroke in which she missed first place by 0.03 seconds, as well as her win in the 100 yard freestyle which she won by 0.06 seconds.
Who stood out?
Abaliksta had the strongest performance for the UNC men, winning the 50 yard, 100 yard, and 150 yard breaststroke events.
Down-Jenkins also won both of his events, showing why he competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
For the women, senior Grace Countie claimed a victory in the 100 yard freestyle, was a member of the winning 200 yard freestyle relay, and came in second in the 150 yard freestyle event.
Greer Patterson and Sophie Linder also performed well. Both women claimed two second place finishes in addition to the win they recorded as part of the 200 yard freestyle relay team.
When was it decided?
Despite the fact that there were many more events to be held after N.C. State won the first nine swimming events, this left the Tar Heels far behind, and made a comeback effectively impossible.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina is now 1-1 on the season, and will have to improve quickly if they do not want to have a season similar to last year’s in which the Tar Heels went 2-4 as a team.
When do they play next?
The North Carolina swimming and diving teams will be back in the pool on Friday, Oct. 22nd, this time in Athens, Ga. where they will face off against the Georgia Bulldogs.
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