INDIANAPOLIS, IND. - Sophomore Danielle Siverling finished seventh in the 500-yard freestyle and junior Cari Blalock set an ACC record in the 200-yard individual medley to lead the University of North Carolina on the opening day of the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships Thursday at the IUPUI Natatorium.
The Tar Heels are in 14th place after the opening day of the championships with 23 points as Carolina scored in three events on the opening day.
"This group we have here is working so well together. It's fitting that we had a great first day," said UNC head coach Rich DeSelm. "They are loose, relaxed, focused and enjoying being here."
"We started off with two great 500s this morning," DeSelm said. "Danielle Siverling put up a huge drop from her conference time and her personal best and came back tonight and went even faster. She made the championship final in 500 free and represented UNC extremely well."
Siverling, from Chester Springs, Pa., took nearly five seconds off her previous career best time in the 500 free during her two swims on Thursday. She qualified in sixth place in the preliminaries by going 4:38.39, more than four seconds faster than her previous personal best set in her freshman season at 4:42.51.
Siverling swam even faster in the evening session even though she dropped one spot from her prelim placing to finish in seventh place overall. Her evening time was 4:37.57 and she now trails only Stephanie Peacock on UNC's all-time depth chart in the event. Peacock's school record time is 4:34.42 set earlier this year at the Ohio State Invitational. Siverling passed both Katura Harvey and Whitney Sprague on the UNC all-time depth chart into second place.
Blalock, a native of Wilmington, N.C., had two brilliant swims of her own on Thursday and in the process became the new ACC record holder in the 200-yard individual medley. Blalock finished 10th in the consolation final in 1:55.86, eclipsing the previous ACC mark of 1:56.17 set by Virginia's Megan Evo on February 19, 2009.
"In the 200 IM, Cari Blalock did a lifetime best time and school record this morning in the heats and qualified for the consolation final," said DeSelm. "Tonight she dropped over another second and broke a four-year-old conference record and finished just short of winning the consolation final."
Blalock came into the meet with a previous career best time of 1:57.87 she set as a sophomore. In the preliminaries, she placed 12th in 1:57.04 and in the process broke Layne Brodie's previous school record of 1:57.56 set in 2011. Blalock would go on to take 1.18 seconds more off her own record in her evening swim and took down the conference mark in the process.
Carolina was the only ACC school to qualify for the finals in the 400-yard medley relay, posting similar times in both the preliminaries and finals. The UNC relay of Carly Smith (53.86), Katie Rechsteiner (1:01.90), Katie Nolan (51.16) and Lauren Earp (48.71) combined for a 3:35.63 time and a 15th-place finish in the event.
"We were the last-seeded team going into the 400 medley relay and qualified for the consolation final and had some really fine swims this morning," said DeSelm. "Carly Smith wasn't as good as she could be on the front end but she has 100 back tomorrow. Katie Rechsteiner is appearing in her first NCAA Championships and is going home an All-America. Katie Nolan had two of fastest fly splits in the entire meet and freshman Lauren Earp did a great job finishing up the relay. It was a great day for us and we are looking forward to tomorrow."
Two other Tar Heels competed Thursday in individual events. Senior Jackie Rudolph placed 39th in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:46.23. Freshman Hannah Lincoln took 42nd place in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.83 seconds.In the 400-yard medley relay preliminaries, Carolina qualified 13th in a time of 3:35.29, the second best time in the ACC this year. The relay consisted of Carly Smith (53.51), Katie Rechsteiner (1:02.17), Katie Nolan (51.05) and Lauren Earp (48.56).