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Cari Blalock wins another ACC swimming title

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GREENSBORO, NC (UNC) -- Led by championship performances by Cari Blalock in the 200-yard butterfly and UNC's school record-setting 400-yard freestyle relay team, the North Carolina women's swimming team surged to a third-place finish Saturday night in the 2013 ACC Championships at the Greensboro Aquatics Center.

Coach Rich DeSelm's swimmers distinguished themselves on the final day as Carolina climbed past Miami, NC State and Florida State in the team standings to place third. Carolina has finished first, second or third in all 35 ACC championship meets ever held. The Tar Heels were ninth after the first day and sixth after both the second and third days before their excellent final day of swimming.

Virginia won the championship with 832 points and other teams finished as follows: Virginia Tech 536, North Carolina 508, Florida State 497, NC State 438, Miami 389, Duke 246, Georgia Tech 158, Boston College 98 and
Clemson 10.

It was a night full of record setting swims and career bests for Carolina.
The night ended on a high note as Carolina's 400-yard freestyle relay
team, which includes three freshmen and a sophomore, won the conference
title in the event for the first time 2007. Carolina finished with a
school record time of 3:15.88, well under the NCAA automatic qualifying
time of 3:17.27. The relay consisted of Danielle Siverling (49.48),
Lauren Earp (48.58), Hannah Lincoln (48.35) an Ally Hardesty (49.47). The
old school record was 3:17.10 which was set in 2009 by the tandem of
Rebecca Kane, Eliza Butts, Megan Steeves and Katura Harvey.

In the previous event, junior Cari Blalock of Wilmington, N.C., broke her
own school record in the 200-yard butterfly and snared her second
individual championship of the meet. On Friday she had won the 400-yard
individual medley in convincing fashion. UNC swimmers finished 1-2-4 in
the event and with their swims assumed the top three sports on UNC's list
of all-time performers in the event.

Blalock's championship came in 1:54.67, just missing the NCAA "A" cut by
.07 of a second. Her previous school record was 1:56.06 set a year ago.
Junior Meredith Hoover took almost three seconds off her previous career
best to finish as the runner-up in 1:55.29. Her previous best time was
1:58.17 and she is now the second fastest performer in UNC history.
Freshman Emma Nunn was fourth in 1:56.85 as she moves into third place on
the all-time chart. Senior co-captain Katie Nolan was the fourth
championship finalist for Carolina in the event as she placed seventh in
1:58.96.

The Tar Heels had started the night on a very positive note as senior
Jackie Rudolph made the podium with a bronze medal finish in the 1650-yard
freestyle. Rudolph destroyed her career best in a magnificent swim, going
16:14.49, including a 1000-yard split at 9:50.63. Her previous personal
bests were 16:22.58 and 9:53.46, respectively. She is now the eighth
fastest Tar Heel performer in the 1000 and seventh fastest performer in
the 1650. Carolina sophomore Kelsey Cummings was also a championship
finalist as she placed eighth in 16:34.98

Tar Heel swimmers took home the 3-4-5 spots in the 200-yard backstroke.
Freshman Annie Harrison led the charge with a career best 1:54.79
(previous was 1:55.08) followed by Carly Smith at 1:54.91 and Rebecca
Brooks at 1:56.88. Harrison's time makes her the second fastest performer
in UNC history behind only Tar Heel record holder Smith.

UNC swimmers turned in three career best swims in the 100-yard freestyle.
Lauren Earp was the top finisher for Carolina in seventh place at 49.43, a
time which moves her into the seventh spot on the all-time performers
list. She was upstaged slightly by Danielle Siverling in the consolation
final as the sophomore notched a career best 49.19 to win the heat and
take ninth overall. Her previous career best was 49.37 and her new time
places her third on Carolina's all-time list behind only Richelle Fox and
Rebecca Kane. Other Tar Heels in the event included freshman Ally
Hardesty in 12th with a career best 50.20 (previous was 50.40) and
sophomore Nikki Barczak in 16th at 51.65 (season best 50.28 in prelims).
Freshman Hannah Lincoln just missed the consolation heat but blew away the
field in the "C" final to win in a career best 49.85, taking 17th overall.
Her previous best was 51.15.

Katie Rechsteiner was Carolina's top performer in the 200-yard
breaststroke with a seventh place finish in 2:14.68. In the preliminary
session she went a career best 2:13.71 (previous was 2:14.03) and thus is
now sixth all-time at Carolina. Freshman Rachel Canty was 11th in a
season best 2:15.41, a clocking which qualified her for ninth on UNC's
all-time performers list. Madison Burns finished 19th in 2:20.60.
Carolina finished with nine All-ACC swimmers, the most since the 2007 team
had 11 selections. This year's group includes Lauren Earp, Jackie
Rudolph, Cari Blalock, Meredith Hoover, Carly Smith, Annie Harrison,
Danielle Siverling, Hannah Lincoln and Ally Hardesty.

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GREENSBORO, NC (UNC) -- Cari Blalock won the 400 IM and Lauren Earp and Carly Smith earned runner-up finishes as Carolina's swimming team continued competition Friday in the 2013 ACC Championships at the Greensboro Aquatics Center.

Blalock, a junior from Wilmington, N.C., won her first individual ACC title and became the first Tar Heel to win the 400 IM since Laura Moriarty in 2010. Earp, a freshman from Etobicoke, Ontario, garnered second place in the 200-yard freestyle with a time just shy of the school record. Smith, a red-shirt junior from Chapel Hill, N.C., came back from her year off and represented herself and her school well with a second-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 53.05.

UNC remained in sixth place in the team standings after the third day but the Tar Heels made up ground on three of the five schools it is chasing in the standings heading into the final day. Defending champion Virginia is well on its way to the title with 560 points followed by Virginia Tech with 348, Florida State with 340, NC State with 322, Miami with 288, North Carolina with 287, Duke with 174, Georgia Tech with 122, Boston College with 80 and Clemson with nine.

"We made up some ground today and had some nice swims, but still have a huge challenge in the team race. We plan to take advantage of every swim we have Saturday and see how it shakes out," said head coach Rich DeSelm. "I was proud of the team for their great attitude, team spirit and some outstanding swimming in today's events. We plan to have a great prelim session Saturday and come back to swim faster at night. That's our only option to make a run at finishing strong and moving up."

Carolina opened the night with a solid fourth place finish in the 400-yard medley relay. The Tar Heel relay unit included Carly Smith (53.24), Danielle Jansen (1:02.28), Katie Nolan (52.38) and Danielle Siverling (49.34). They combined to post a time of 3:37.24. Virginia Tech won the championship in the event to go along with the title it won in the 200-yard medley relay on Wednesday night.

Cari Blalock then turned in a dynamic swim to win the 400 IM in a time of 4:08.48 as she led an impressive contingent of Tar Heel swimmers in the event. Blalock trailed Virginia's Shaun Casey halfway through the race but she turned in a brilliant breaststroke leg to take a commanding lead and stretched it out in the freestyle to win by a margin of 2.23 seconds. Also swimming in the championship final was freshman Emma Nunn who took fifth place with a time of 4:15.45.

Another freshman, Annie Harrison won the consolation final in the event with a career best time of 4:14.35. She dropped six seconds from her preliminary time in the event to eclipse her old personal best, which was 4:14.47. Freshman Madison Burns placed 12th in 4:21.35 and Kelsey Cummings captured the bonus consolation heat and finished 17th overall in a career best 4:23.28 (previous was 4:25.65). Harrison's time moved her into fifth place on Carolina's all-time performers list behind only Moriarty, Blalock, Polly Winde and Nunn.

In the 100-yard butterfly, Carolina had two top five finishers in freshman Hannah Lincoln, who was fourth in 53.27, and senior Katie Nolan, who took fifth in 53.33. Lincoln had moved into fourth place on the all-time performers list in Friday's preliminaries and she broke her personal best for the second time with her finals swim. She had clocked a 53.48 in the morning heats.

In the consolation heats, Meredith Hoover was 14th in 55.00, Danielle Jansen 16th in 55.81 and Nikki Barczak 20th in 56.11.

A pair of Tar Heels grabbed Top 4 placings in the 200-yard freestyle as freshman Earp took second place in 1:45.22 and sophomore Danielle Siverling was not far behind with a 1:45.88 good for fourth place. Earp broke her previous career best of 1:45.41 and was just .21 of a second off NCAA champion Jessi Perruquet's school record. She is now the third fastest performer in Carolina history behind only Perruquet and another NCAA champion, Stephanie Peacock. Freshman Ally Hardesty swam in the consolation heat and placed 15th in 1:48.61.

The Tar Heels had three swimmers in the consolation final of the 100-yard breaststroke with Rachel Canty taking 13th in a season best 1:03.14, Danielle Jansen 14th in a season best 1:03.18 and Katie Rechsteiner notching 15th in 1:03.49.

Carly Smith capped off the evening for the Tar Heels in excellent fashion as she swam a consistent race, staying in second from wire to wire to finish in the runner-up spot in the 100-yard backstroke in 53.05. Smith was the ACC champion in both backstrokes in 2011 but missed last year with a medical red-shirt only to come back strong Friday evening. Two other Tar Heels swam in the event with Katie Nolan taking 15th in 54.66 and Rebecca Brooks finishing 16th in a season best 54.80, just .09 off her personal best time.
Action in the Championships will conclude on Saturday at the Greensboro Aquatics Center with the preliminary session at 11 a.m. and finals at 7 p.m.

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