After 735 days, little has changed.
Almost two years to the day that the Gophers men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams defeated North Carolina in a season-opening meet, Minnesota repeated history Saturday at Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Gophers men escaped 153-145, while the women won 158-142.
Minnesota’s men, ranked No. 13, took control early, winning 11 of the meet’s 16 events, but had to hold on as No. 15 North Carolina mounted a late rally.
Junior swimmer Manolis Lentaris led the Gophers on Saturday, winning three events and competing on a runner-up relay team. He won the 200-, 500- and 1,000-yard freestyle events and swam the first leg of the team’s second-place 400 freestyle relay.
Martin Zielinski, a sophomore from Bloomington Jefferson High School, captured both the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly races, contributing to the team’s strong performance.
The No. 15 Gophers women’s team used depth to beat the No. 16 Tar Heels in their own pool, winning by 16 points, despite placing first in the same number of events.
Junior Gretchen Hegener paced Minnesota, winning the 100 and 200 breaststroke and swimming on the winning 200 medley relay team. Her time of 1:02.32 in the 100 was fast enough to earn her an automatic qualifying time for the NCAA championships.
Czech Republic Olympic team member Olga Splichalova won the 500 and 1,000 freestyle. Senior Carrie Hanson won both diving competitions in which she was entered, setting meet records in the 1- and 3-meter dives.
North Carolina’s men’s and women’s teams came into the invitational thinking upset, but were overwhelmed early.
“The beginning of the meet was totally awesome,” women’s swimming coach Jean Freeman said. “They seemed really confident coming off their meet with Georgia. After Minnesota won 1,2,3 (in the women’s 100 breaststroke) they got real quiet, though. I think we weren’t as confident as they were, but we’re eager and we have a group of athletes that likes winning.”