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Cari Blalock sets UNC record at ACC swim meet

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CHRISTIANSBURG, VA (UNC sports release) - Sophomore Stephanie Peacock set an ACC record in the 1650-yard freestyle and captured Most Valuable Swimmer honors Saturday night as the 2012 ACC Women's Swimming & Diving Championships concluded at the Christiansburg Aquatics Center. UNC finished second in the 11-team field as Peacock became the first Tar Heel to win the MVP award at the meet since Chrissy Miller won it in 1998.

Peacock won her third event of the weekend in taking home the 1650-yard freestyle in ACC record time of 15:46.12. Having previously won the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races earlier in the week, she finished with her second NCAA `A' qualifying time and won her fourth career ACC title. She finished the week with five medals (three gold, one silver, and one bronze), two NCAA automatic qualifying times, and two ACC Championship meet records to become the first Tar Heel to earn ACC Women's Most Valuable Swimmer honors since 1998.

"It is a really great feeling to be able to come out of this meet with three golds and two conference meet records," said Peacock. "I wasn't expecting that kind of performance coming into the meet and it is a really great feeling knowing that all of the hard work that I have put in over the past season has paid off."

Virginia won the league championship with a score of 848 points while the Tar Heels were clearly in second place with 615 points. Florida State placed third with 460 points and host Virginia Tech was fourth with 401 points. The remainder of the field had Maryland with 399, Miami with 313, NC State with 247.5, Georgia Tech with 195.5, Duke with 193, Clemson with 137 and Boston College with 60.

Peacock was among several Tar Heels who were named to the 2012 All-ACC Team. She was joined on that team by freshman Danielle Siverling, sophomore Cari Blalock, senior Laura Moriarty, senior Candace Cooper and junior Katie Nolan.

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"Certainly highlighting the weekend for us was Stephanie Peacock being named Swimmer of the Meet," said UNC head coach Rich DeSelm. "She capped off her day with a tremendous win in the mile, breaking all the available records - the school, ACC, and ACC meet marks and breaking Whitney Sprague's conference record that was set at the 2009 NCAA Championships with an NCAA runner-up swim.

"Stephanie has put a lot of hard work in. She is a tremendous person and competitor and well deserving of this honor," said DeSelm.

Peacock concluded a phenomenal ACC Championships meet as she won her third league crown, taking the 1650-yard freestyle to go along with her wins in the 500-yard freestyle on Thursday and the 200-yard freestyle on Friday. Peacock's winning time of 15:46.12 broke the ACC record that had been held by UNC's Whitney Sprague by less than a second. Sprague's existing mark had been 15:46.57 set on March 21, 2009 at the NCAA Championships. Peacock also broke the conference meet record that Duke's Ashley Twichell set last year at 15:54.15.

Peacock's domination of the race was thorough as she finished 26.3 seconds ahead of runner-up Erika Hajnal of Virginia Tech, who clocked a 16:12.42. Virginia freshman Alison Haulsee was third in 16:21.56. North Carolina freshman Kelsey Cummings finished sixth in 16:30.68 and junior Jackie Rudolph was 10th in 16:37.17.

Senior Laura Moriarty saved her best swim of the Championships until last as she captured the ACC title in the 200-yard breaststroke in a time of 2:10.23, just off her own conference record time of 2:09.60 in the event which she set in 2010. It was the fourth individual ACC title of Moriarty's career. She also won championships in the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes and the 400-yard individual medley in 2010. Sophomore Katie Rechsteiner finished seventh in the event in 2:15.53 while senior Katie Keel was 14th in 2:17.10.

"That was a huge win by Laura Moriarty in the 200 breast. She went out fast and never looked back," said DeSelm . "She won by over a second with her third best individual performance ever. She had to overcome a lot this year and it was very inspiring for her to get this championship victory."

Carolina placed three swimmers in the Top 5 of the 200-yard butterfly as sophomore Cari Blalock reached the awards stand for the third time in the meet. Blalock finished second in 1:56.36 on the heels of her third-place finishes earlier in the meet in the 200-yard and 400-yard individual medleys. Blalock completely destroyed the school record in the event in the prelims on Saturday as she went 1:56.06, well ahead of Kelly Weeks' time of 1:57.66 that had stood since 2003. It was also more than a full second faster than her previous career best of 1:57.30.

"We had three finalists in 200 fly which was a huge difference from a year ago when we had none," said DeSelm. "Cari Blalock just missed getting a win and Katie Nolan and Meredith Hoover were both in the Top 5. Blalock took down a record that stood a long time. That one has been around a while and we have had a lot a people flirt with it but Cari crushed it today. She had a terrific meet."

Two other Tar Heels finished in the Top 5 as junior Katie Nolan was fourth in 1:58.48 and sophomore Meredith Hoover was fifth in 1:58.93. Both times were just slightly off the career best marks for both swimmers that were set at Nike Cup last November.

UNC swimmers did a great job in the consolation final of the 200-yard backstroke as senior Candace Cooper won the heat in a time of 1:57.20 to finish ninth overall while junior Rebecca Brooks placed 11th in a clocking of 1:57.62. Senior Sarah Tanner had a 1:59.33 time in the preliminaries and that time did not qualify her for finals but it was her career best, beating her old mark of 2:01.24.

In the 100-yard freestyle, UNC freshman Danielle Siverling rang up her third championship finalist performance of the meet as she placed sixth in 49.87. Junior Stephanie Eisenring also scored in the event, going 50.48 to place 12th while freshman Nikki Barczak was 16th in 51.16. Siverling's time of 49.68 in the prelims moves her into a tie with Sarah Perroni ('93) for seventh place in the all-time Carolina depth chart in the event.

North Carolina had three divers finish in the Top 11 of the standings in women's three-meter diving competition. Senior Jenna Moore led the way in seventh place with a score of 249.95 while freshman Emily Schmidt was ninth with 233.00 points and freshman Natalie Ritter was 11th with 225.45 points.

"I'm very happy for Jenna Moore with her seventh place finish in platform diving. We had three of our four divers score in the tower and that was rewarding and helpful," DeSelm said.

Carolina finished off the meet with a third-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay as the Tar Heels finished in a time of 3:19.28. The UNC relay consisted of Danielle Siverling (50.16), Stephanie Eisenring (49.65), Nikki Barczak (49.67) and Stephanie Peacock (49.80).

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