The NC State men’s swim team has the opportunity to win its sixth straight ACC championship at the Greensboro Aquatic Center this week.
The No. 5 Wolfpack (6-1, 4-0 ACC) finished the regular season with a strong victory over Virginia Tech by a score of 178-120. Senior Coleman Stewart had yet another dominant performance, winning three individual titles against the Hokies (100-yard backstroke, 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley). Freestyle talent sophomore Nyls Korstanje also took home two individual titles (50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle).
9x ACC Champion Stewart is striving for nothing less than the team conference title in his final year with the Wolfpack swim team. This year, Stewart will be defending his individual ACC titles in 100 back and 200-yard backstroke. Long distance freestyle specialist junior Eric Knowles will be defending his 500-yard freestyle title as well. With drastic improvement in times, Korstanje has the opportunity to earn his first individual ACC title this year, most likely in 50 free or 100 free.
NC State’s closest competitor is going to be No. 9 Louisville, which came in second place last year in the ACC championship. Other notable teams competing are No. 14 Florida State, No. 15 Virginia, No. 18 Notre Dame, No. 19 Virginia Tech and tied for No. 23 North Carolina.
The battle between Korstanje and Pittsburgh’s Blaise Vera in 50 free will be interesting, with Vera’s best time being better by only 0.01 seconds. In 100 free, Korstanje has everyone in the ACC beat more comfortably, as his top time is in this category, making it his greatest chance for an individual title. Knowles will be competing with UVA’s Jack Walker, who has slightly more than a second on Knowles’ best time, for 500 free title.
The rest of long-distance freestyle is dominated by Notre Dame’s Zachary Yeadon and Jack Hoagland. Stewart dominates the top times in all backstroke events, being top 10 nationally in all three. However, the Wolfpack is at a disadvantage in breaststroke and doesn’t have much advantage in butterfly either, except for the 100 fly, where Korstanje and Stewart are very close with the other top times. Virginia and Pitt also have decent advantages over other ACC teams in IM times.
NC State has some very strong freestyle relay times as well, especially in the 400-yard and 800-yard freestyle. The 200 IM relay is going to be very close between NC State, Louisville and Florida State.
This year’s ACC championship should be especially close with many top teams in the nation and will be the most suspenseful meet for the Wolfpack so far this season.
The ACC Swimming and Diving Championship will begin Wednesday, Feb. 26 and will last until Saturday, Feb. 29 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro.