By Dave Lohse
October 19. ATHENS, GA. NORTH Carolina opened its 2000-01 swimming and diving seasons losing both men's and women's meets to Georgia at Gabrileson Natatorium in Athens Thursday afternoon. The #1-ranked Georgia women's team, which has won the past two NCAA titles, defeated 16th-ranked UNC, 160-138. The Tar Heel men, who finished 28th in last year's NCAA Championships, also swam well in a losing effort, fall to Georgia, 164-134. Georgia's men were 15th at last year's NCAA meet.
"We did not win either of these meets but we competed at a very high level," Tar Heel coach Frank Comfort says. "To come down here and be in the meet until the very end against two great teams was encouraging. And I think our early season times were stupendous. This meet sets us up well for our meets the next two weeks against Rice and Michigan for the women and Minnesota for the men."
The Tar Heel women won only five of 16 individual events in their meet but stayed close throughout with great depth. Senior Summer Mack was a double winner for Carolina in the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke. Carolina also won the 400-yard freestyle relay and individual wins were posted by freshman Molly Freedman in the 200-yard butterfly and junior Molly Sullivan in the 1000-yard freestyle.
UNC's men won five events as well with junior Chris Helin winning the 400-yard individual medley, junior Kevin Erndl winning the 50-yard freestyle, junior Kert Johnson taking the 100-yard freestyle and freshman Yrui Suguiyama winning the 200-yard freestyle. Carolina also won the 400-yard freestyle relay.
"Despite the loss we can build from this meet," Comfort says. "We want to swim good teams in the dual meet season because these kinds of meets will make us better prepared for when we compete in the conference meets and at the spring championship competitions. We will be tested again like this in our own place when we swim against Minnesota for the men and Michigan for the women."
Both teams will compete Friday in the Tar Heel Invitational at Koury Natatorium, a non-scored meet at 5 p.m. The next dual meet is for the women, next Saturday at 12 noon, against the Rice Owls at Koury Natatorium.