The NC State swimming and diving teams made their blazing debut Wednesday evening in Chapel Hill in a dual meet against UNC-Chapel Hill. Both the women’s and men’s teams conquered UNC easily — the women won by a score of 220-178, and the men followed suit with a score of 231.5-69.5. Several returning stars and fresh faces hit the ground running, giving an exciting taste of the season to come ahead of this weekend’s face-off against Tennessee.
Things kicked off with the 200-yard medley relay and the unconventional, yet grueling, 600-yard freestyle. Returning pros like junior Katharine Berkoff and senior Kylee Alons blitzed through their respective legs of the medley relay, while freshman David Curtiss made his NCAA debut with a blistering 19.33 freestyle split to cap off the men’s first-place relay. Junior Ross Dant and sophomores Will Gallant and James Plage swept the podium in the 600-yard freestyle, all three finishing in under 5:25.
The 50-yard butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle events were swam in quick succession after the culmination of the 600-yard freestyle. NC State pulled off first-place finishes across nearly every event, highlighted by Berkoff’s powerful 24.56 in the 50-yard backstroke to finish first by nearly a second and senior Sophie Hansson’s sub-28 50-yard breaststroke.
Following the 50s were the 100-yard races and the 400-yard freestyle events. Senior Giovanni Izzo touched the wall in an impressive 49.00 flat to finish first in the 100-yard individual medley, and Dant, Gallant and Plage pulled off another 1-2-3 combo in the 400-yard freestyle. Reigning 100-yard backstroke NCAA champion Berkoff won the 100-yard backstroke handedly in 52.51, and junior Kacper Stokowski followed suit with a blistering 47.15.
The 600-yard freestyle may have been a little strange, but it doesn’t stack up to watching the 150-yard butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle events. Sophomore Abby Arens set the tone with a 1:24.24 150-yard butterfly, touching over four seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
Freshman Annabel Crush made her unconventional NCAA debut with a first-place finish in the 300-yard individual medley, winning in 3:16.47. Among other newcomers, freshmen Garrett Boone and Aiden Hayes competed in a handful of events each to cement their status as some of the best recruits the NC State men’s team has ever seen.
The 200-yard freestyle relay capped off Wednesday night’s splash and dash. Although UNC out touched the women’s relay, the men’s relay won handedly. Izzo, juniors Noah Henderson and Nyls Korstanje and Curtiss all split sub-20s to beat UNC’s A-relay by over four seconds.
NC State will face off against Tennessee in their second dual meet of the season this weekend at Willis R. Casey Aquatic Center on Oct. 15.