High School Sports

Chapel Hill sweeps Big 8 boys and girls swimming titles

Claire DeSelm’s high school swimming career includes plenty of trips atop podiums as a four-time state champion. And don’t forget the many conference and regional titles the Chapel Hill senior has collected.

During those moments, though, she’s not necessarily smiling over the fast times or the opponents she defeated.

“I’m thinking about how proud I am to represent my school,” DeSelm said. “It’s an honor to be on a team at one of the best schools for both athletics and academics.”

Those moments are winding down as she considers her college options, but she collected four more Big 8 Conference titles Thursday night at the Triangle Aquatics Center. She won the 100-meter butterfly in 59.20 seconds and 100 backstroke in 59.66.

DeSelm is a four-time defending state champion after winning the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle as a sophomore and repeating in same events as a junior. But you wouldn’t know DeSelm’s high profile the energy she spent encouraging teammates.

DeSelm is a four-time defending state champion after winning the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle as a sophomore and junior. But she’s not so accomplished that she doesn’t spend a lot of energy encouraging her teammates.

“Any swimmer is going to struggle at some point, and it’s important to reach out to your teammates and support them,” DeSelm said. “I think it’s a rewarding way to give back to your sport.”

DeSelm was naturally drawn to the sport with her father, Rich DeSelm, North Carolina’s men’s and women’s coach, and her mother, Tracy, a high school swimmer. But she’s had separate coaches throughout her career.

“I’m fortunate all my coaches were beneficial to me at different stages of my career,” she said. “I think it’s been important to have my own coaches. I have to take responsibility for my career.”

Chapel Hill coach Steve Riegler cites her leadership as another skill.

“She’s been talented since the day she walked through the door as a freshman, but she also has developed into a team leader,” Riegler said. “She does a great job of engaging everyone.”

In the team competition, Chapel Hill’s girls and boys teams won all individual and relay events to clinched their titles before the final events.


Chapel Hill’s Uma Knaven also was a double winner in the 200 IM (2:15.29) and the 500 free (5:12.23).

Other Tigers champs were Jaylen Forrest, 200 free, 2:00.50; Paige Jones, 50 free, 26.33; Marissa Tocci, 100 free, 56.28; and Sarah Taekman, 100 breast, 1:11.28.

DeSelm also swam legs on two winning relays. She was on the 200 medley relay (1:54.86) with Taekman, Knaven and Jones and the 400 free relay (3:51.42) with Forrest, Tocci and Jones.

Winning the 200 relay (1:47.59) were Katherine Acierno, Forrest, Tocci and Taekman.


There were four Chapel Hill double winners.

C.J. Eron won the 50 free (23.03) and 100 free (50.03); Jacob Werden the 200 free (1:49.11) and 500 free (4:55.61); Ang Li the 100 butterfly (54.28) and 100 backstroke (56.39); and Jorden Ren the 200 IM (1:57.47) and 100 breast (1:02.64).

On the winning 200 medley relay (1:46.02) were Adam Batson, Andrew Zheng, Werden and Ren; on the 200 free relay (1:34.18) were Eron, Li, Ren and Zheng; on the 400 relay (3:28.22) were Li, Werden, Ren and Eron.

Boys team scores

Chapel Hill, 736; Orange, 337; Northern Vance, 278; Cedar Ridge, 251; Northwood, 129.

Girls team scores

Chapel Hill, 749.5; Orange, 393.5; Northern Vance, 260; Cedar Ridge, 144; Northwood, 129.