South swimmer Van Noordt signs with Asheville

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By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

 BOILING SPRING LAKES—South Brunswick High School senior Rachel Van Noordt signed a letter of intent April 30 to attend UNC Asheville and compete in swimming.

South athletics director Chris Roehner said he thought Van Noordt was the first Cougar swimmer to sign with a college. The program has been in existence 12 years.

UNC Asheville brought women’s swimming back last fall after not having a program for 36 years.

“I got lucky,” Van Noordt said. “My mom noticed they were trying to start a swim program. So that was another option—and they actually wanted me to swim for them.

“I fell in love with the campus. I’ve always loved the mountains. Everyone was friendly when I first went there and toured.”

UNCA already has made its mark academically, as six of the team’s eight swimmers were selected to the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association’s All-Academic Team. None of the eight is a senior and Van Noordt said at least eight “fantastic” freshmen will join the team in the fall.

“I might be at the back of the pack,” she said, “but I think they also have been training harder than I have. Hopefully, I’ll improve quickly.”

Van Noordt is a veteran of top-level competition. In each of last two seasons of her high school career, she swam in four events at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 3A state meet.

In the state meet Feb. 8, she swam in two individual events and in two relays.

In the 100 freestyle, she was 19th in 58.85 seconds. In the 200 individual medley, she was 23rd in 2:28.95.

She was part of the 200 freestyle relay that finished 20th in 1:51.76 and she was part of the 200 medley relay that finished 22nd in 2:13.03.

In the 2012 state meet, Van Noordt also was in four events, three of them relays.

The 400 freestyle relay was 19th in 4:11.68. The 200 medley relay was 20th in 2:07.42.  The 200 freestyle was 23rd in 1:56.81.

In the 100 freestyle, Van Noordt was 24th in 1:00.65.

Van Noordt began swimming when she was 8.

“I liked it immediately,” she said in an interview in January with The Beacon. “I don't know why, but I’ve always loved the water.”

She swims as often as she can. As she told The Beacon in the earlier interview: “I never get out of the pool. I always smell like chlorine.”

Van Noordt’ s workouts during the high school season included weightlifting, running a mile twice a week and two swimming practices (instead of the mandatory one) on Mondays and Thursdays.

At UNCA, her practice sessions will be more intense.

“I’ll be having two practices a day,” she said, “I think two hours each—about 8,000 yards a day. We have our own weight trainers.”

Van Noordt said her first practice is at 7:30 a.m., later than what was during the high school swim season. She stressed the UNCA coaches put a priority on classwork.

“We’ll be able to keep up our work,” she said.

Van Noordt has set a standard for future South swimmers. She holds school records in the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle and the 200 individual medley.

At the signing were Lou-Ann Hadlock, Marlins swim coach; Kevin Sullivan, Brunswick Aquatic Club coach; and Sam Jennings, South swim coach.

“All of them have been very patient with me,” Van Noordt said. “They realize I still have a lot of improving to do and they look at each part of my stroke and help me with that.”

“The fact that you have three coaches sitting next to you,” Roehner said, “says a lot about what you have done, how hard you have worked and your accomplishments.”