The Wolfpacker

May 2017 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 59 of 87

60 ■ THE WOLFPACKER CREAM OF THE CROP NC State's Swimming Program Dominates The ACC BY MATT CARTER F or the second straight season, NC State men's swimming and diving landed on the podium at the NCAA Champion- ships and claimed a relay national title. Yet the feelings surrounding the accomplishments were a little different this time. Head coach Braden Holloway noted the vibe may have been less enthusiastic this year because "we already did it." "We wanted more, and we're not afraid to talk about it," he said. Such is the nature of where Holloway has taken the men's pro- gram. After winning its third straight ACC championship, his squad dominated the field in an NCAA record-setting 800 freestyle relay to win a national title in the meet's opening race. A year ago, the Pack closed the NCAA Championships by win- ning the national title in the 400 freestyle relay. "I probably never had felt like that," said Holloway after the vic- tory in the 800 relay. "That race was twice as long. You savor the excitement more. I was just proud of that group. They wanted to come out and give that relay a run. To see them do it was an unreal experience." The men, though, were not alone in their successes this season. The women ended Virginia's nine-year title run in the ACC, cap- turing the Pack's first league crown since 1980 and accomplishing a goal that they set before the season began. They then finished a school-record best seventh at the NCAA Championships. "We went all out for conference," Holloway acknowledged. "We put all our eggs in that one basket because that is really want they wanted to do, and then we found a way to come back and do better here at NCAA and move up two spots [from 2016]." "The women were … on a mission all season." The final notable results of the year were the men matching the 1955 and 2016 squads for the best-ever finish at the NCAA Cham- pionships, and the women bettering their previous best of eighth in 1982. The combined finish is also the best ever for NC State, topping last year when the men were fourth and the women ninth. The women's team must replace a strong senior class, and the men lose some valuable swimmers such as senior Soren Dahl, but Holloway has faith in his staff that both programs are on solid ground. "I got great coaches that are my friends," he said. "They've helped me become better, and they are absolutely great at what they do." ■

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