Courtesy: University of North Carolina
The University of North Carolina returned to the top of the awards stand Saturday night as the Tar Heels captured their 13th Atlantic Coast Conference title in women's swimming and diving at Koury Natatorium on the UNC campus. The Tar Heels, ranked 16th nationally, ended the two-year reign of Virginia, the nation's eighth-ranked team, which finished second in the 22nd annual ACC Women's Swimming & Diving Championships.
Coach Frank Comfort's Tar Heels claimed their first crown since 1996 and kept alive a streak which has seen them finish either first or second in all 22 ACC meets. Carolina finished with 842.5, also the most points scored by a conference champion since UNC won the '96 title. Virginia finished 693.5 points for a second place finish as the Heels and Wahoos finished well ahead of the rest of the field. Clemson was third with 476.5 points, followed Maryland in fourth place with 442 points, Florida State in fifth place with 395.5 points, N.C. State in sixth place with 365 points and Duke in seventh place with 132 points.
Comfort won his 23rd ACC championship as a coach with the victory. His Tar Heel teams have won 13 women's titles and 10 men's titles in his 23 years as head coach in Chapel Hill. Virginia freshman Cara Lane (Charlotte, N.C.) was named the Most Valuable Swimmer of the Championships after winning three individual events. Lane won the 500-yard freestyle Thursday night and she won two titles on Saturday night--the 1650-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly. She was also a member of Virginia's ACC champion 800-yard freestyle relay team on Friday night. Lane's winning time of 16:07.71 in the 1650-yard freestyle on Saturday night was the Atlantic Coast Conference record in the event.
The Most Valuable Diver of the Meet was N.C. State's Kelley Melton, who won the three-meter diving competition on Saturday night. A senior from Wakefield, Mass., Melton finished fourth in the one-meter diving competition on Thursday night.
Carolina, Florida State and Virginia shared equally in the success of individual championships on the final night of competition. Lane led off the festivities by winning the 1650-yard freestyle in the ACC record time of 16:07.71. Another Virginia freshman, Mirjana Bosevska, was second and UNC swimmers took the 3-4-5 spots.
North Carolina junior Summer Mack of Satellite Beach, Fla. won the second individual ACC title of her career as she went a school record time of 1:58.22 to win the 200-yard backstroke. Mack also won the 100-yard backstroke as a freshman in 1998. Virginia junior Megan Iffland was second and UNC's Laura Collier and Heather Stiles finished third and fourth.
The 100-yard freestyle was the Florida State show as the Seminoles took first and second in the event, dethroning reigning champion Rebecca Cronk, who finished third. Florida State sophomore Christy Cech, a native of Pietermaritz, South Africa, won the title with a time of 50.32 seconds. Tanya Gurr of Harare, Zimbabwe, who won the 200-yard freestyle for the Seminoles on Friday night, was second in 50.57. Cronk's third place time was 50.60.
The title in the 200-yard breaststroke went to North Carolina's Katie Hathaway, a sophomore from Matthews, N.C. Hathaway, who also won the 100-yard breaststroke on Friday night, touched in 2:13.04 to edge freshman Jill Martin of Maryland, who clocked a 2:13.38. Both are automatic qualifying times for the 2000 NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. next month. UNC freshman Janna Turner of Raleigh, N.C. took more than five seconds off her career best time to place third in 2:16.74.
Lane then won her second title of the night, taking top honors in the 200-yard butterfly in a time of 1:58.58. As with her time in the 1650-yard freestyle, that was an automatic NCAA qualifying time. UNC senior Kelly McLaughlin (High Point, N.C.) finished her career in style by taking the silver medal and Maryland freshman Bridget Mallon was third.
Florida State then finished off the evening, winning a pitched battle for the title in the 400-yard freestyle relay. First through third places were separated by only a half second but the Seminoles' winning quartet of Kristen Adams, Anne Blachford, Gurr and Cech took top honors with a time of 3:21.33. Virginia was second with a time of 3:21.67 and UNC third with a time of 3:21.83.
FINAL TEAM SCORES 1. NORTH CAROLINA, 842.5 2. VIRGINIA, 693.5 3. CLEMSON, 476.5 4. MARYLAND, 442 5. FLORIDA STATE, 395.5 6. N.C. STATE, 365 7. DUKE, 132