Virginia To Face Top-Ranked Teams in Athens
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia swimming and diving teams will compete in the first invitational of the season this weekend as participants in the Georgia Invitational, which will be held at the Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Ga. The meet will use the NCAA championships format, with event preliminaries in the morning and finals in the afternoon. Action begins Friday morning and runs through Sunday.
Other teams competing in the Georgia Invitational are Northwestern, Harvard, West Virginia and the host Bulldogs.
“We selected the meeting knowing there would be great competition,” head coach Mark Bernardino said. “The WVU men are defending Big East champions and the women were runners-up. Northwestern finishes in the top 10 nationally on the men’s side, and their women are among the top 25. Harvard, from the Ivy League, always has outstanding teams. And Georgia, their women are No. 1. They have no weaknesses. Both teams are talented and well-coached. They are very deep.”
The 15th-ranked Cavalier women (4-2, 2-0 ACC) have the opportunity to post some big wins this weekend. The squad is coming off three weeks of rest, last defeating Michigan State and Purdue in University Park, Pa. Jenn Narum, Jess Lewis and Mei Christensen lead the team in the 1000 free, 500 free, and 100 back, respectively.
“I hope they come out very eager to get back in the pool,” head coach Mark Bernardino said of the Virginia women. “They have worked hard these last three weeks and I think we have used the time wisely. I hope they can respond well.”
The No. 14 Virginia men (4-2, 2-0 ACC) will look to regroup after a close loss to Tennessee at home two weeks ago. Rookie Taylor Smith continues to lead the team, putting points on the board in the 1000 and 500 free in every dual meet. Tennessee was no exception, as Smith won the 1000 free (9:11.09) and the 500 free (4:28.98). John Azar was also instrumental for the Cavaliers, winning the 200 free in 1:38.32 and finishing second in the 200 breast.