By Dave Lohse
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Feb. 15. NORTH CAROLINA has taken an early lead after one day of competition at the 2001 Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Swimming & Diving Championship, held at the University of Virginia Aquatic and Fitness Center.
The Tar Heels, ranked #8 in the nation, have taken a 37-point lead after the first day of competition as they seek their 14th championship in the 23-year history of the league meet.
The defending ACC Champion Tar Heels lead all teams with 247 points, followed by host school Virginia in second place with 210 points. Maryland is in third place after the first day of competition with 153
points, while Florida State is in fourth place with 139 points. Clemson is in fifth place (137 points), followed by North Carolina State in sixth (100
points). Duke rounds out the field in seventh place with 38 points.
Maryland swimmers Katy Novotny, Suzy Catterson, Petra Adamkova and Kelly Bowman captured the night's first event, the 200-yard freestyle relay, with an ACC-record time of 1:31.34. The Terps broke UVa's ACC record (1:31.50) and ACC meet record (1:31.58). The time also eclipsed the old Virginia pool record of 1:32.04 by more than a half-second. North Carolina
finished second in 1:31.74, and Virginia was third with a time of 1:32.11.
The Tar Heels' effort was a school record in the event as Erika Acuff, Jessi Perruquet, Summer Mack and Christy Watkins went one-tenth of a second faster than Carolina did at last year ACC Championships.
UVa sophomore Cara Lane turned in an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 4:43.55 in the meet's first individual event, the 500-yard freestyle, successfully defending her title. Lane holds the ACC meet record of 4:43.21, set at last year's ACC Championship. Cavalier Amy Baly finished second in 4:46.84, while the Tar Heels' Jessi Perruquet was third with a time of 4:48.05.
UNC also took the 5-6-7 spots in the event as Kelly Weeks, Molly Sullivan and Melissa Fiss turned in times of 4:51.61, 4:52.50 and 4:52.79, respectively. Carolina swimmers also took the top two spots in the consolation final of the event as Lauren Silva was ninth in 4:52.59 and Whitney Smith 10th in 4:54.95. Leigh Sanders took 14th place with a time of 4:58.41.
North Carolina senior Erika Acuff set a new ACC record, ACC meet record and pool record as she won the 200-yard individual medley in an NCAA automatic
qualifying time of 1:59.88. Acuff broke her own records of 2:00.36 (ACC)and 2:01.55 (UVa pool).
Defending champion Mirjana Bosevska of Virginia finished second in 2:00.71, followed by UNC's Katie Hathaway in third place in 2:00.92. Carolina's Becky Acker finished fifth in a time of 2:03.76, while the Tar Heels' Janna Turner was sixth in 2:04.21.
In the 50-yard freestyle, North Carolina's Christy Watkins edged out Maryland's Suzy Catterson to earn her second straight ACC Championship in the 50 free. Watkins set a UVa pool record of 22.74 seconds, which is also an NCAA automatic qualifying time. Catterson's time of 22.90 was good for second, followed by FSU's Christy Cech in third place in a time of 22.94. UNC's Stefanie Rulis was 15th in the event in a time of 23.92 seconds.
Florida State divers swept the top three places in the one-meter diving competition. Chelsie Lerew finished first with a total score of 274.50 and Caren Hirai finished second with 258.70 points. The Seminoles'
Michelle Sekeres was third with 256.90 points. Among Tar Heels in the event, Ashley Benner was 10th with 223.6 polints, Lindsay Waddell 13th with 214.8 points and Elizabeth Misiti 14th with 209 points.
In the night's final event, North Carolina edged out Clemson in the 400-yard medley relay. Tar Heel swimmers Christy Watkins, Katie Hathaway, Summer Mack and Jessi Perruquet won in a time of 3:43.39. The Tigers claimed second place in 3:44.13, and Maryland finished third in 3:45.49.
The Championships continue with events 7-13 on Friday. Prelims are at 11 a.m. and finals at 7 p.m.