GREENSBORO, N.C. - Tom Luchsinger successfully defended his title in the 400-yard individual medley and Carolina set a new school record in the 400-yard medley relay as day three concluded Friday at the 2013 ACC Men's Swimming & Diving Championships at the Greensboro Aquatics Center.
Altogether, Carolina swimmers set 17 career bests in individual events on the day and moved up a spot in the team standings to rank in third place. With one day to go in the Championships, Virginia leads the field with 528 points followed by Virginia Tech with 400, North Carolina with 374, Florida State with 353, NC State with 323.5, Duke with 197, Georgia Tech with 179.5 and Boston College with 93.
Luchsinger led wire-to-wire to win his second successive ACC title in the 400 IM and his fourth ACC individual championship overall. He led a strong field of UNC swimmers with six Tar Heels now ranking among Carolina's Top 10 all-time performers in the event based on their swims on Friday. Luchsinger won his title in a career best 3:44.25 (previous was 3:44.81) while two other Tar Heels placed in the championship final with Alex Gianino taking fourth in 3:49.34 (career best 3:47.68 in prelims, 3:50.08 coming into meet) and Patrick Myers placing sixth in 3:49.91 (career best 3:49.67 in prelims, 3:52.36 coming into meet). Three more Tar Heels placed in consolation heats. Tyler Hill took 13th place in a career best 3:50.92 (previous was 3:51.39 in prelims, 3:53.10 coming into meet), freshman Matt Kwatyra was 16th (went 3:51.06 in prelims) and another freshman, Mitch DeForest, won the bonus consolation heat and placed 17th overall in a career best 3:51.71 (previous was 3:52.88 in prelims and 3:56.89 coming into the meet).
"We are blessed to have a lot of talent in the 400 IM highlighted by Tom Luchsinger in his senior year, repeating as the champion and doing his lifetime best time, breaking his personal best that he set two years ago at the NCAA's in a Top 8 finish," said Tar Heel head coach Rich DeSelm. "I'm very happy for him. He beat the field by two and a half seconds. It was a terrific swim. He led wire to wire."
Luchsinger, Gianino, Myers, Hill, Kwatyra and DeForest now rank 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th and 10th, respectively, on Carolina's all-time Top 10 performers list.
The all-freshman UNC 400-yard medley relay team set a school record in the event with an automatic NCAA qualifying time and a fourth-place finish. The Tar Heels went 3:09.78 with the unit consisting of Nic Graesser (46.64), Kurt Wohlrab (53.91), Sam Lewis (46.43) and Logan Heck (42.80). Graesser's leadoff leg was a career best time in the 100 back for him, breaking his previous personal best of 47.90. Friday's time took down the previous school record by more than a full second. That was a clocking of 3:10.89 in 2011 turned in by Tommy Wyher (46.75), Vinny Pryor (54.07), Tom Luchsinger (47.40) and Steve Cebertowicz (42.67).
"It was a busy night. We had some really terrific swimming," said DeSelm. "More and more, I am realizing how young our team is demonstrated by our 400-yard medley relay being four freshmen. We had a really great swim and broke the school record with four freshmen and were just out of the medals in fourth place with a 3:09.7 and an NCAA "A" cut. Nic Graesser, Kurt Wohlrab, Sam Lewis and Logan Heck did a phenomenal job. It's very exciting thinking about having them around for three more years."
All four Tar Heels swimming in the 100-yard butterfly posted personal best times on Friday and again all four were freshmen. Sam Lewis and Ben Colley captured the top two spots in the consolation final in times of 46.42 and 47.72, eclipsing their previous personal bests set in the prelims at 47.53 and 47.73, respectively. They had been 48.29 and 48.64, respectively heading into the championships. Freshman Kurt Wohlrab placed 19th in the preliminaries in a career best 49.61 (previous was 49.75) and freshman Sean Sullivan swam in the bonus consolation heat and placed 18th in a career best 49.95, well below his previous time of 51.37 coming into the meet and 50.24 in the prelims. With their swims on Friday, Lewis and Colley now rank as the second and fifth fastest performers ever for the Tar Heels in the 100-yard butterfly.
A trio of Tar Heels scored in the 200-yard freestyle as Brad Dillon took fifth in 1:36.15, while J.T. Stilley was sixth in 1:36.35 and Logan Heck was 15th in 1:38.14. Dillon, Heck and Kyle Ficker all had career best times in the preliminaries of the event at 1:35.59, 1:37.93 and 1:39.30, respectively. Dillon lopped 1.96 off his previous career best and Heck lowered his by 2.01 seconds. Ficker shed .71 off his personal best. Dillon's time moved him into a tie for second place among the Top 10 all-time performers list with ACC legend John Davis and behind only current junior teammate J.T. Stilley on the career charts.
Career bests continued to flow for UNC in the final two events as well. Freshman Kurt Wohlrab and sophomore David Speese both lowered their personal bests twice on Friday, finishing ninth and 11th overall. Wohlrab went 54.28 in the consolation final after going 54.59 in the morning (previous was 55.63) and Speese went 54.62 in the consolation final after going 54.86 in the morning (previous was 55.20). Wohlrab and Speese are now the third and fourth fastest performers in UNC history in the event.
In the 100-yard backstroke, freshman Nic Graesser placed fourth in 46.82, just a little bit slower than his school record split on the relay earlier in the event. Just as they had done in the 100-yard butterfly earlier in the night, Sam Lewis and Ben Colley went 1-2 in the consolation final, finishing in 47.30 and 47.75 respectively. Each lowered their career bests twice on Friday with Lewis going from 48.76 pre-meet to 48.30 in the consolations and 47.30 at night. Colley was 49.59 coming into the meet, then went 48.25 in the prelims and 47.75 in the consolation finals for almost a two-second drop. The three freshmen - Graesser, Lewis and Colley - are now the second, third and fourth fastest Tar Heels in UNC history.
The championships conclude on Saturday with prelims at 11 a.m. and finals at 7 p.m. Events tomorrow include platform diving, the 1650-yard freestyle, the 200-yard backstroke, the 100-yard freestyle, the 200-yard breaststroke, the 200-yard butterfly and the 400-yard freestyle relay."The future is really bright with how well our freshmen did tonight," said DeSelm. "If you add in the tower diving for tomorrow we are standing fourth going into tomorrow's swimming races behind UVA, Virginia Tech and FSU but we've got a great day tomorrow and look to make a run at the leaders."