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Wednesday December 7th

UNC swimming and diving looks to grow after busy summer, dominant first meet

Head Coach Mark Gangloff gathers the swim and dive teams to deliver a post-meet speech following a loss to NC State in Koury Natatorium on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. The Tar Heels' fell to the Wolfpack 187.5-112.5 in men's and 182-118 women's.
Buy Photos Head Coach Mark Gangloff gathers the swim and dive teams to deliver a post-meet speech following a loss to NC State in Koury Natatorium on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. The Tar Heels' fell to the Wolfpack 187.5-112.5 in men's and 182-118 women's.

After a dominant first-meet win and extensive summer experience, UNC swimming and diving will focus on its wealth of experience and recent growth to find success this season.

Last season, UNC sent 17 swimmers and divers to the NCAA Championships, where the women placed fourteenth and the men twenty-seventh. Additionally, many of the team's top swimmers and divers competed in competitions worldwide this summer. Coaching staff and athletes alike said they're confident that they can continue to build on that success.

A Dominant First-Meet Win & The Season Moving Forward

The men's and women's teams defeated Queens, 188-69, in a dual meet last Friday.

It's really exciting to be able to reenter this competition phase of the year, because the kids have been working hard for the last six weeks or so, and now it's time to showcase some of the things that they've been working on,” head coach Mark Gangloff said. “I think that we're in a better place than we were even last year.”

The athletes are equally as confident about the position that the team is in. Fifth-year Grace Countie demonstrated the abilities of UNC with her performance in the Queens meet, where she placed first in the 50-yard free and 100-yard fly.

“All around, it was one of the best meets we've ever had as a team this early in the season,” Countie said. “We have a lot of potential and (are) looking forward to our bigger meets and our invite especially. I think we are destined to do some great stuff.”

North Carolina’s next meet is at UNCW on Oct. 21 and conference play doesn’t start until January. The victory over Queens provided the Tar Heels with an opportunity to showcase their skills, but the non-conference season moving forward will demonstrate the strength of the swimmers and divers as they prepare for ACC competition.

Team Culture: 'A Wealth of Experience' 

Although the current season is in its infancy, many North Carolina swimmers and divers spent time this past summer competing everywhere from Irvine, Calif. to Birmingham, England to Budapest.

Members of the team competed at USA Swimming's 2022 Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships, the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the 2022 International Swimming Federation World Swimming and Diving Championships.

They bring back to the program a wealth of experience and composure when competing against high-level competitors,” Gangloff said.

Fifth-year diver Anton Down-Jenkins is no stranger to international competition, having competed in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Down-Jenkins is one of only two Olympic divers in Tar Heel history.

“We had so many swimmers and divers compete on the international scene over the summer, which was amazing,” Down-Jenkins said. “They all did really well, which solidifies our school and our team’s dominance, both in the NCAA and around the world.” 

Extending Growth & Success to a New Generation of Tar Heels

North Carolina’s swimming and diving program has significantly grown since Gangloff took over as head coach in 2019. This season, the team added 21 first-years. Successful upperclassmen like Countie, an All-American, are committed to fostering the growth of the newest Tar Heels.

“Freshman year is a learning experience for every athlete,” Countie said. “We have a really good team culture already established, so people can feel comfortable going up to anybody and asking them for help or leaning on each other.”

Under the direction of Gangloff and with new additions being guided by their successful older teammates, North Carolina will look to build on their growth in years to come.

@lindseyashe_

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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