DALLAS, TEXAS - The North Carolina women's swimming and diving team captured second place Saturday night in the 2012 SMU Classic at historic Perkins Natatorium. The #19 Tar Heels finished with 292.5 points, trailing only third-ranked USC and beating #9 Texas, #10 Florida and #16 SMU in the process.
On the final night of competition, UNC junior Stephanie Peacock captured the individual title in the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 4:38.39, beating her closest competitor by more than six seconds and setting meet and pool records in the process.
USC took first place with 366 points while the Tar Heels placed second with 292.5 points, just ahead of Florida, which finished with 289. The remainder of the field included Texas with 268 points, Louisville with 236 points and SMU with 209.5 points.
"We capped off the two-day SMU Classic with another day of really good swimming and diving," said UNC head coach Rich DeSelm. "We wanted to come here and race tough and after the first day we found ourselves in a fight for second place. We had a few key moments in tonight's meet where we preserved that opportunity to maintain second place. We had several swimmers step up and do a great job in their respective heats and those points proved crucial to our finishing in second place."
The Tar Heels started off the evening with a third-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay as Carly Smith, Katie Rechsteiner, Cari Blalock and Lauren Earp combined for a time of 1:42.13.
Junior Stephanie Peacock and sophomore Danielle Siverling came back in the next event to take the top spots in both the "A" and "B" finals of the 500-yard freestyle, combining to put the two best times of the night on the scoreboard. Peacock won the event in 4:38.39, breaking the meet and pool records set by Sarah McLarty of Florida in 2003. The previous records were 4:43.42. Siverling won the "B" final with a terrific time of 4:44.30, which was faster than the second place time in the "A" final.
Carly Smith was a key element in UNC's second-place finish as the junior from Chapel Hill finished second in the "A" final of 200-yard backstroke in 1:57.09 and second in the "B" final of the 200-yard butterfly in 2:01.40.
"Carly Smith really rebounded after a bit of a disappointing first day. She had a really nice 200 backstroke," said DeSelm. "But more importantly she provided the team a spark in the 200 fly by getting second in the B final. At that time we were getting some heat from other teams. I was really proud of Carly this evening."
Senior Katie Nolan also earned well-deserved praise from DeSelm after she placed second in the 200-yard butterfly in a time of 1:57.01. Nolan eradicated her previous career best of 1:58.26 that she set during the 2011-12 season. "That was simply another outstanding performance from Katie Nolan," said DeSelm. "It was an extremely well swum effort. She is having a great start to her senior year."
The Tar Heels finished strong with junior Cari Blalock taking third in the "A" final of the 200-yard individual medley and freshman Madison Burns copping second place in the "B" final. Blalock had a time of 2:00.63 and Burns touched in 2:02.25, taking two seconds off her time from the previous week in the tri-meet at South Carolina.
North Carolina's women and men will both be in action next Friday when the Tar Heels have their first home meet of the season. UNC will meet Virginia Tech at 5 p.m. at Koury Natatorium.
FINAL TEAM SCORES: #3 USC 366, #19 NORTH CAROLINA 292.5, #10 FLORIDA 289, #9 TEXAS 268, #24 LOUISVILLE 236, #16 SMU 209.5