ATLANTA, GA. — Hellen Moffitt, Caroline Baldwin, Sarah Koucheki and the 400-yard freestyle relay all set school records Thursday on the final day of the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Swimming & Diving Championships at the McAuley Aquatics Center at Georgia Tech.
The Tar Heels finished fourth out of 13 teams as Coach Rich DeSelm's team completed an outstanding week of swimming and diving competition at the league meet.
"We had a tremendous week at the ACC Championships. Our women set nine school records, five individual and four relay marks," said UNC head coach Rich DeSelm. "But more importantly everyone on the team showed tremendous resilience after a challenging regular season and we had an unblievable number of lifetime best times over the course of the week.
"I am very proud of this team for believing in themselves and trusting in one another. I'm very proud of our senior leadership and all the seniors on the team and our co-captains Hellen Moffitt and Caroline Baldwin. We appreciate the tremendous support we've as always enjoyed from family, teammates, coaches and the support staff at UNC. I am personally grateful for my staff and the outstanding job they did preparing this team for this meet."
Carolina finished the meet with a school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay, its fourth University record set on the final day. The Tar Heel relay finished third in the event, met an automatic NCAA qualifying time and set the school record in going 3:13.49. The relay consisted of Caroline Baldwin (48.28), Sarah Hitchens (48.14), Brooke Bauer (49.04) and Hellen Moffitt (48.03). UNC's previous school record was 3:13.75 set a year ago by Baldwin, Ally Hardesty, Hitchens and Lauren Earp.
Hellen Moffitt seized early momentum for the Tar Heels as she placed second in the 200-yard backstroke in a school record time of 1:51.64, taking down her own previous University mark of 1:52.35 set last year. It was the third individual medal of the meet for Moffitt who won the 100-yard butterfly and finished third in the 100-yard backstroke on Wednesday.
In the "B" final of the 200-yard backstroke, Emily Slabe finished 12th in a time of 1:56.09 and Susanna LaRochelle took 13th place in a clocking of 1:56.92. Katie Ford grabbed 22nd place in a time of 1:59.09. Both LaRochelle and Ford lowered their career best times for the second time on the day after going 1:57.82 and 1:59.49 in the preliminaries.
Caroline Baldwin and Sarah Hitchens swam the second and third fastest 100-yard freestyles in school history in finishing fourth and fifth in the championship final, going 48.23 and 48.36, respectively. In the preliminaries, Baldwin had broken her own school record by going 47.96 and Hitchens posted identical times of 48.36 in the preliminaries and the finals. Freshman Brooke Bauer placed 18th in the event in a career best time of 49.37 (previous was 49.43 in Thursday's preliminaries).
Junior Elissa Dawson turned in a superb performance in 10-meter platform diving to earn her second third-place finish of the Championships. The Durham, N.C., native scored 272.25 points to claim the bronze medal. She also finished third in three-meter diving on Monday and eighth in one-meter diving on Tuesday as she was a championship finalist in all three events.
"On the women's end, Elissa had an amazing night," commented UNC diving coach Abel Sanchez. "She overcame several obstacles and was able to put together a solid list in finals. In fact, it came down to her last dive, where she was sitting in fifth place. Elissa hit her dive for 8's pushing her into third place. I'm so proud of her and the determination she had all night long."
A trio of 200-yard butterfliers turned in magnificent performances for Carolina in that event. Senior Sarah Koucheki finished fifth in 1:55.52, senior Caty Hulsey captured sixth in 1:56.04 and freshman Bryanna Cameron merited a 15th place finish in 1:59.07. Earlier in the day, Koucheki had set a school record in the event at 1:54.27, eclipsing the school record of 1:54.47 established by Meredith Hoover in 2013. Hulsey's time in the finals was her career best (previous was 1:56.45) and she finishes her career as the sixth fastest performer in UNC history in the event. Cameron had her second career best time of the day. She had broken it earlier by going 1:59.41 in the prelims.
In the timed final of the 1650-yard freestyle, a pair of Tar Heel seniors finished with times that earned them "B" finals team points. Macey Arnold finished 11th in 16:33.91 while Liliana Casso notched 14th place with a time of 16:42.68.
A pair of Tar Heels competed in the "B" final of the 200-yard breaststroke with Abby Fisher finishing 12th in 2:12.80 and Emily Pfeiffer taking 16th in 2:13.94. Pfeiffer had recorded a personal best 2:12.54 in the prelims (8th best performer in Tar Heel history).
In the team standings, NC State won its first conference championship since 1980 with 1183.5 points. Virginia, which had won nine straight league crowns from 2008-16, was second with 1100.5 points. Louisville finished third with 1027 points and the Tar Heels claimed fourth place with 980. UNC's team showed tremendous improvement over the past three weeks after dropping meets to Virginia, NC State and Duke late in the dual meet season. Coach Rich DeSelm's 23rd-ranked Tar Heels showed up in Atlanta and had a week of swimming and diving full of personal best times and scores and medal winning performances.
The fifth through 13th place teams in the standings were Virginia Tech 739, Duke 725.5, Notre Dame 654.5, Florida State 625.5, Pittsburgh 428, Georgia Tech 391, Miami 361.5, Boston College 152 and Clemson 144.
The Tar Heel men's divers also did an excllent job in their preliminaries on 10-meter platform. In fact, four scored points in the event. Bryan Allen was 14th with 267.70 points, Sean Burston was 17th with 259.90 points, Jack Nyquist was 21st with 248.95 points and Devin Bellamy was 23rd with 240.75 points. Andrew Owsiany placed 25th with 232.45 points and Max Jenkins took 28th with 190.90 points.
"The men did well on platform today," said UNC diving coach Abel Sanchez. "We have four freshmen men who began diving platform this year and it was good to see them compete. Give them a couple of years and I know they will be competitive with the rest of the field."