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March 19, 2004

by Patrick Schuermann

When the points were tallied up at this year’s ACC Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, the Virginia men’s swimming and diving team accomplished something no other UVa sports team ever has – they won their sixth consecutive ACC title. The team broke the previous record of five consecutive titles held by the men’s soccer team (1991-1995) and the women’s outdoor track team (1983-1987). Fourth year team captain, and All-American, Ian Prichard credits this year’s success to the team’s unique chemistry.

“This is the most closely-knit team I’ve been on out of my four years, and I sincerely think that that camaraderie has played such a big part in our success this year. We have strong leadership in all four of the classes. Although we have a large number of first years (10), they are all willing to speak up, say what’s on their minds and motivate people. At the same time, they are willing and eager to learn from the upperclassmen, which makes for a great combination for them and for us.”

This year’s team blew the competition out of the water, winning by a 311.5 point margin. Virginia scored 848.5 points. Florida State finished a distant second with 537 points. The team was not surprised by their margin of victory. Virginia knew coming into the meet that this year had the potential to be one of the strongest ACC showings in team history.

“Our goal heading into the meet was to score nine hundred points (which would have been the ACC record). With all the new teams (Boston College, University of Miami and Virginia Tech) coming into the ACC next year, this was going to be our last opportunity to score so high. The entire team was extremely pumped up about that possibility. I guess it would follow, then, that we did expect to dominate in the fashion we did. In fact, in the end, we wanted to chalk up a few more points.”

With the ACC Championship behind them, the men’s swimming and diving team looks to next week’s NCAA Championship meet. The team hopes to improve on last year’s top ten finish at the NCAA meet. Prichard and the five other Virginia seniors on the team know the importance of this meet, being their last one for UVa.

“I really just hope to have a good time, and have everyone swim as fast as we all know we can. Scoring tenth last year (the highest in our program’s history) was incredible, and we are going to have to swim lights out to maintain our hold on that top ten spot. I think that is what is first and foremost in everyone’s mind. I’d love to see everyone swim well, of course, but in particular I hope the other fourth years really light it up. I hope we leave that meet with smiles on our faces.”

This year’s title was especially sweet for Virginia. They won the title at their home pool (Virginia’s Aquatic and Fitness Center) in the last ACC Swimming and Diving Championship to be held there. Also, when Virginia won the ACC title, they did not merely break a school record for consecutive conference titles in a sport. Coupled with Maryland’s victory over Duke in the ACC basketball finals, Virginia swimming and diving took over as the ACC team with the most consecutive conference titles.

NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Finals will be held Thursday, March 25, through Saturday, March 27, at the Goodwill Games Aquatic Center in East Meadow, New York. For ticket information, please call 516-572-0509 or 516-572-0508.

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