Disclaimer: BlueSeventy Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The BlueSeventy Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
Heroics are a part of sports, a theme woven into the very fabric of competitive situations. The hero comes through in the key moment to push his or her team to victory.
But what really elevates a sporting event to the next level is a clash of heroics on both sides – one hero who powers their team to victory and another who falls short but fights valiantly in the effort.
Last weekend’s UNC-Georgia matchup was one such battle.
Arguably the most exciting dual meet of the season so far, the matchup pitted a Georgia team riding a 94-meet win streak at home against a feisty North Carolina squad that has proven to be a terror of a dual meet matchup, evidenced by last year’s road win over ACC champs Virginia.
In the war-within-the-war, a pair of juniors led their teams with key swims throughout the meet.
For the visiting Tar Heels, Hellen Moffit was the hero. Racing against a team only one year removed from an NCAA championship streak (Georgia was second in 2015 after winning the previous two NCAA titles), Moffit won three of her four events and ranking at the top of the NCAA for the season in two individual swims.
Moffit became the first swimmer this season to break 53 in the 100 back, going 52.77 to lead a huge 1-2 for UNC early. She would return late to win the 100 fly in a nation-leading 53.82, putting the pressure on Georgia with only three events remaining in the meet.
In between, Moffit was second in the 200 backstroke behind Georgia’s U.S. National Teamer Hali Flickinger. Both women went faster than anyone else in the NCAA had previously and sit one and two in the national ranks.
But Georgia had a hero of its own to counter. Emily Cameron came up with three decisive individual wins, her only loss coming to Moffit’s relay in the meet-opening 200 medley.
Immediately after Moffit’s big points swing in the 100 back, Cameron answered with a touchout win in the 100 breast. Her 1:03.07 just nipped UNC’s Katie Munch, a 10-point swing in favor of Georgia with a winner earning 9 points and a runner-up just 4.
Cameron came back to lead a 1-2 of her own in the 200 breast, putting up the nation’s third-fastest time of the year at 2:14.26.
But the biggest win came late. With Moffit winning the 100 fly an event prior, and UNC’s loaded freestyle group waiting to put the meet on ice in the 400 free relay, Cameron came up with a dagger swim in the 200 IM, winning in a nation-leading 2:01.14 and leading a 1-2-3 punch that all but sealed the meet for the Bulldogs.
Though the Tar Heels fought right to the end with a win in the 400 free relay, Cameron’s wins kept the home win streak alive at 95 meets as Georgia triumped by just 2 points – as close as a meet can get in the NCAA’s scoring format.
With the college season still very young, swimming fans can only hope these kind of competing heroics are just a preview of what the entire season will have to offer.
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