Chapel Hill’s Claire DeSelm hoisted herself out of the pool following another win to add to her sterling high school swimming career in a double-dual matching the Tigers, Cardinal Gibbons and East Chapel Hill.
As she toweled off, the senior chatted with a volunteer timer, a Cardinal Gibbons parent dressed in green. But they weren’t talking about old times now that Gibbons is no longer a Big 8 3A Conference rival as the Crusaders have joined East Chapel Hill in the PAC-6 4A.
“Oh, I was just thanking her for volunteering,” said DeSelm, a defending 3A state champion in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard butterfly. “I try to make a point of that and tell my teammates to thank them, too. They’re taking time out of their day to help put on the meet.”
In a double-dual matching three of the area’s state powers Wednesday night at the Triangle Aquatics Center, DeSelm led the Chapel Hill girls to a pair of non-conference wins, defeating Cardinal Gibbons 50-44 and East Chapel Hill 49-45. In the other PAC-6 dual, Gibbons edged East Chapel Hill 48-46.
On the boys side, Chapel Hill’s two non-conference scores were a 47-47 tie with East Chapel Hill and 48-46 win over Gibbons. In the PAC-6 dual, Gibbons defeated East Chapel Hill 48-46.
“This is great competition,” DeSelm. “We’re fortunate to have a meet against both Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill. It was a competitive environment.”
DeSelm, who remains uncommitted for college, won her state title events in the double dual with a 2:10.44 in the 200 IM and a 58.78 in the 100 fly.
Cardinal Gibbons’ Emily Dykstra, a senior committed to Georgia Tech, noted the competition was good for the entire roster.
“It’s nice Chapel Hill was added to the meet,” Dykstra said. “When you have more people to race it’s a chance to face more people. It makes the slower heats faster, too.”
Dykstra won the 100 freestyle (55.07) and was second in the 50 freestyle (25.61).
East Chapel Hill sophomore Sophie Perez was the only athlete that was a part of four wins. She won the 200 backstroke (1:55.40) by nearly five seconds and 100 backstroke (1:00.50) by more than three seconds. She also swam legs on two winning relay teams – the 200 medley (1:51.91) and the 200 freestyle (1:41.93).
Perez was a finalist last year in the 500 and 200 freestyles last year. She’s undecided on her individual events this season but has set a goal for a top three finish.
“It was fun to compete against both teams,” Perez said. “Everyone on our team is doing better. There was a lot of energy for this meet.”
The increased competition resulted in only one other double-winner besides DeSelm and Perez and that was in the boys’ competition. Cardinal Gibbons’ Cothalee Watko won the 200 free (1:47.16) and the 500 free (4:48.44).
In other girls events, Chapel Hill’s Paige Jones won the 50 free, 25.58; Chapel Hill’s Jaylyn Forrest the 500 free, 5:19.65; and East Chapel Hill’s Annie Huang the 100 breaststroke, 1:10.83.
In other boys events Chapel Hill’s Jordan Ren won the 200 IM, 1:58.48; Gibbons’ T’Lez Foulkes the 50 free, 23.53; Chapel Hill’s Ang Li the 100 butterfly, 53.95; Gibbon’s John Cairns the 100 free, 50.15; Gibbons’ Christopher Raymond the 100 backstroke, 54.32; and East Chapel Hill’s Connor Sept the 100 breaststroke, 1:00.34.