When the ACC pulled all neutral-site championships from the state of North Carolina in response to the state’s controversial bathroom bill (and other states’ responses), Tech became an unexpected beneficiary. The McAuley Aquatic Center, once host to the 1996 Olympics, became the home of the 2017 ACC Swim and Dive Championships.
That event, which started on Feb. 13, brought teams from all over the eastern seaboard to compete in a variety of events.
Earlier this season, Tech Head Coach Courtney Hart indicated that hosting the Championships would offer the team advantages and pose disadvantages. She listed familiarity with the facility and procedures as significant assets, while she was concerned that not traveling would lull the Jackets into a false sense of security.
For swimmer Iris Wang, hosting the event was more personal. According to Wang, the convenience of travel to Atlanta (as compared to Greensboro, N.C., the originally intended site) made it more likely that her family abroad in China could attend.
Over the first few days (Thursday’s events occurred after press time), the Jackets have seen both the ups and downs of competition. The men sit at No. 5 of 13 eligible teams, while the women are a less promising No. 11.
With that in mind, here are some of the biggest takeaways from the first few days of action at one of the biggest swimming events of the year for Coach Hart and her talented team of swimmers and divers. Records were set, and the path for the last two days has been made clear.
While Tech has not quite matched up to some of the finest teams across the conference so far, it has bested many of its own records, on both the men’s and women’s sides. On Wednesday alone, the team set seven new school records, courtesy of ramblinwreck.com.
Particularly impressive was the work of senior Maddie Paschal of LaGrange, Ga., who broke her own record in the 100-meter backstroke twice within an hour and contributed to a record-setting relay effort. In her final conference championship, Paschal made her exit a memorable one.
“We’re excited to see how tomorrow plays out and finish out the ACCs with even more impressive times,” said sophomore Laura Branton, who played a part in breaking three of seven records on the day, courtesy of ramblinwreck.com.
On the men’s side, diver Matt Casillas notched a score of 341.40 to advance, the highest in NCAA Zone Diving Championships history. Casillas’ mark was one of the Wednesday’s highlights across the board for the team.
The Path Ahead
Thursday evening will bring about a number of final events, from freestyle to butterfly. The day will conclude with an awards ceremony directly after those competitions finish. The Jackets will have competed in yet another ACC Championship.