GREENSBORO, N.C. - The North Carolina men's swimming team broke three school records on the opening day of the 2013 ACC Championships being held at the Greensboro Aquatics Center. Both Tar Heel relays competing on Wednesday night earned NCAA "A" cuts for the 2013 NCAA Championships next month in Indianapolis.
In arguably the most successful ACC opening day for Carolina in years, the Tar Heels broke school records in the 200-yard medley relay and 800-yard freestyle relay while junior J.T. Stilley's leadoff leg on the latter relay set a school mark in the 200-yard freestyle that had stood for 23 years.
"We had a great night. There were two events and we set three school records. The 200 medley relay was an NCAA "A" qualifying time and we had three freshman on that relay so we are pretty excited about what they did and our future as well," said UNC head coach Rich DeSelm. "In the 800 free relay we had a nice leadoff from J.T. Stilley and a school record swim that breaks John Davis' record from 23 years ago in the 200 free. For a record to hold on that long is a testament to how great a swimmer John was. The quartet put together a school record and an "A" cut. Those guys did a great job. We feel good about the start of the meet and we're excited about tomorrow."
The Tar Heels started the night with a school record performance in the 200-yard medley relay and a bronze medal finish in the event. The relay included one junior and a trio of freshmen. The Tar Heels finished in 1:26.19 with freshman Nic Graesser swimming the backstroke (21.54), freshman Kurt Wohlrab the breaststroke (24.54), freshman Sam Lewis the butterfly (20.81) and junior Kyle Ficker the freestyle (19.30). This year's Tar Heel relay unit broke the previous school record, which had been established in 2011 at 1:26.50 by Josh Hafkin (22.47), Vinny Pryor (24.48), Tommy Wyher (20.48) and Steve Cebertowicz (19.07).
The relay time of 1:26.19 also beat the NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:26.38.
The 800-yard freestyle relay not only beat the school record, it also easily went under the NCAA "A" qualifying time in the event and the Tar Heels are now headed to next month's NCAA Championships in Indianapolis in the event. The Tar Heels' record time was 6:22.47 (qualifying time was 6:25.90). UNC's relay consisted of junior J.T. Stilley (1:35.42), junior Brad Dillon (1:35.38), senior Tom Luchsinger (1:34.03) and senior Brett Nagle (1:37.64). Luchsinger's 1:34.03 was the fastest split in the field by .41 of a second.
Stilley's leadoff leg broke the longest standing record in UNC history in any event in the history of the program. John Davis time of 1:35.59 had stood since he won the ACC title in the event at the 1990 ACC Championships. Stilley now holds the mark with a clocking of 1:35.42. The record had not only stood for 23 years but also for 12 years longer than any other current Carolina men's record. Sean Quinn's 200-yard breaststroke record set in 2002 now holds that distinction.
The previous 800 freestyle record was 6:22.87 set in 2011 by Evan Reed (1:36.03), Steve Cebertowicz (1:35.66), Tom Luchsinger (1:34.84) and Tyler Harris (1:36.34) at that year's NCAA Championships.The field of eight teams is tightly bunched after the opening night of the Championships. Florida State leads with 70 points while Virginia is second with 68. Virginia Tech and UNC are tied for third with 66 points each. The rest of the field includes Georgia Tech with 54 points, Boston College with 48, NC State with 30 and Duke with 24.