DALLAS, TEXAS - The University of North Carolina women's swimming and diving team stands in second place after the opening day of the SMU Women's Swimming and Diving Classic at Perkins Natatorium. In a field that includes six nationally-ranked Top 25 teams, #19 UNC stands in second place with 149.5 points.
"The first night of the SMU Women's Classic went really well for us," said UNC head coach Rich DeSelm. "We are in second place and had some exciting performances."
Third-ranked Southern California leads the field after the first night of competition with 185 points while #19 North Carolina is second with 149.5 points. No. 10 Florida is in third place with 145 points while ninth-ranked Texas is fourth with 129 points. #24 Louisville and host SMU, ranked #16, round out the field with 116 points and 111.5 points, respectively.
"The six teams in this meet are some of the top NCAA teams in the country," said DeSelm. "It is great to be a part of this competition. We had a great night overall and our girls had a lot of fun swimming fast and diving well on the first night. We've set ourselves up well after the first night and are looking forward to racing tomorrow."
Although the Tar Heels did not win an "A" final championship in Friday night's schedule of events, UNC earned a total of five second-place finishes in the championship finals on the night, including runner-up finishes in both relay events.
Carolina opened the night with a solid placing in the 400-yard medley relay. The Tar Heels finished second in the event at 3:39.76, just behind USC at 3:38.26. The UNC relay included Carly Smith, Katie Rechsteiner, Katie Nolan and Danielle Siverling. Nolan and Siverling both had the fastest splits in the field of six teams as Nolan went 52.75 on the butterfly leg and Siverling split 49.15 in the freestyle leg.
In the 400-yard individual medley, junior Cari Blalock matched her in-season best time ever with a 4:12.14 for a third place finish. In the "B" final, freshman Madison Burns went 4:15.81, regular-season best, to take second place in that heat.
Carolina had two of its strongest swims of the night in the 200-yard freestyle as sophomore Danielle Siverling placed second in 1:45.90 and Stephanie Peacock captured the championship of the "B" final with a clocking of 1:46.65. Siverling's time was just off her career best time of 1:45.66 set at last year's NCAA Championship.
Carolina had some solid finishes in the 50-yard freestyle with freshman Lauren Earp and senior Katie Nolan and in the next event sophomore diver Natalie Ritter had an excellent performance with a score of 255.50 points. That was good for a third-place finish.
Like the 200-yard freestyle, the Tar Heels were extremely solid in the 100-yard butterfly. Katie Nolan finished second in the event with a time of 52.98 seconds. That was just .06 of a second off of her personal time. Blalock had the fastest time of her career with a time of 53.75 seconds to win the "B" final. Her previous career best was 53.77. She was also faster than at any time during her sophomore season in 2011-12.
The 100-yard backstroke saw Carolina's Carly Smith finish second in a time of 55.60 seconds. Katie Rechsteiner and Madison Burns also turned in excellent swims in the 100-yard breaststroke for UNC.
Carolina finished the evening strong with a second-place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay. UNC's time was 7:10.98 and it was just nosed out by USC which finished in 7:10.45. The Tar Heel relay included Danielle Siverling (1:47.43), Lauren Earp (1:47.05), Cari Blalock (1:50.33) and a strong anchor swim by Stephanie Peacock (1:46.17).
"We were excited about the potential of our 800 freestyle relay," said DeSelm. "We were in a nice race with Southern Cal and just finished a little short. The time we put up may be our best history wise outside of a championship meet at the ACC or NCAA level."
Action continues on the final night of the SMU Classic on Saturday night with the meet starting at 7:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 p.m. CDT).