INDIANAPOLIS, IND. - University of North Carolina senior captain Hellen Moffitt took second place in the 100-yard butterfly and eighth place in the 100-yard backstroke Friday night at the 2017 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the Indiana University Natatorium.
"The highlight today was certainly Hellen Moffitt qualifying for the championship finals with third and sixth place preliminary swims in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke," said UNC head coach Rich DeSelm.
Moffitt earned first-team All-America honors in both events, the first Tar Heel to pull off that challenging double on the same day in these two events since Cami Berrizzi did so at the national championship meet in 1981. Moffitt's second-place finish was the highest Carolina individual finish at the NCAA Championships since 2012 when Stephanie Peacock won the NCAA title in the 1650-yard freestyle.
Moffitt set school records in both the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke during the course of the day. In the process, she helped the Tar Heels jump three spots in the team standings on the third day of the Championships. Carolina now stands in 17th place with 53 points.
UNC's other All-America performer on Friday was junior diver Elissa Dawson, a Durham, N.C. native. Dawson placed 10th in three-meter springboard diving in both Friday's preliminaries and Friday's finals. She scored 320.75 points in the prelims to earn her spot in the consolation finals and then improved that score by almost 30 points in the evening session, totaling 348.75 points. This marked the second straight year she finished in the Top 10 of three-meter diving at the NCAA Championships. She was ninth in the event a year ago.
Moffitt's busy day began in the preliminaries where she qualified third in the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 50.77, just one-tenth of a second off her school record time of 50.67 set in 2016. Later in the preliminaries, she took the sixth qualifying spot in the 100-yard backstroke in a school record time of 50.94 seconds as she broke the mark set last month at the ACC Championships by junior teammate Caroline Baldwin at 51.38 seconds.
In the evening, Mofffitt, a native of Alexandria, Va., who placed fifth in the 100-yard butterfly at last year's NCAA meet, soared to second place as a senior, touching in 50.37, breaking her own school record by three-tenths of a second. The University of California's Farida Osman was the NCAA champion in the event at 50.05 seconds.
Just minutes later Moffitt swam in the championship final of the 100-yard backstroke where she finished eighth in 51.14 seconds. Although she was two-tenths of a second off the school record she set in the prelims, she still put up the second fastest time in University history in the event.
"Tonight, Hellen was at her best finishing second in the 100 fly with a personal best and new UNC record of 50.37. This morning, in prelims, Hellen set a new UNC record in the backstroke and is the first woman in UNC history to break 51 seconds with her 50.94," said DeSelm. "While she finished eighth in the final, Hellen represented UNC extremely well and is the first female swimmer at UNC to make two championship finals in the same day since Cami Berrizzi did it in 1981. That's a remarkable accomplishment."
Tar Heel diving coach Abel Sanchez was very pleased with Dawson's consistency on the boards as she earned honorable mention All-America honors in the three-meter event. "Today was a great contest with a deep field of phenomenal divers and Elissa was among them all," said Sanchez. "She missed finals by 11 points however she was able to regroup and finish 2nd in the consolation finals."
DeSelm was equally laudatory of Dawson's contributions. "Elissa Dawson also became an All-America diver for the third year in her career with her 10th-place finish on the three-meter board," said DeSelm. "Elissa dives platform tomorrow and we have some great swims and the 400 freestyle relay to look forward to as well."
FRIDAY FINALS RESULTS
2nd Place, Hellen Moffitt, 50.37, School Record
8th Place, Hellen Moffitt, 51.14
10th Place, Elissa Dawson, 348.75 points
FRIDAY PRELIMINARY RESULTS
400-Yard Individual Medley
26th Place, Caty Hulsey, 4:10.86
3rd Place, Hellen Moffitt, 50.77
28th Place, Sarah Koucheki, 52.49
6th Place, Hellen Moffitt, 50.94, School Record & Personal Best
26th Place, Caroline Baldwin, 52.47
38th Place, Sarah Hitchens, 53.29
200-Yard Medley Relay
19th Place, 1:37.61, Caroline Baldwin (24.63), Emily Pfeiffer (28.06), Hellen Moffitt (22.95), Sarah Hitchens (21.97)
10th Place, Elissa Dawson 320.75