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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. The Virginia women’s swimming and diving team will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships this week in Atlanta, looking for its first league title since 2003. Ranked 10th in the nation, the Cavaliers are the highest-ranked school in the ACC. The event begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday on the Georgia Tech campus. Finals of all events will be broadcast live on ACC Select at

“I hope they will be confident in their training, in their preparation and in themselves,” head coach Mark Bernardino said of his swimmers. “We have done everything we can do from a training perspective and I feel really good about that. I feel great about the way they have performed over the last two months. They have done everything we’ve asked them to do.

“The most important thing they can do is enjoy the moment,” Bernardino said. “Be happy, have fun and try not to feel pressured. The hardest part of the season is getting to this point. The best thing to do now is strictly race on instinct.”

In 2007, Virginia took third place at the event, finishing behind champion North Carolina and Florida State. Then third-year Jessica Lewis captured the ACC crown in the 200 free and will try to defend her title in the event this year.

The Cavaliers finished 4-0 this season in dual meets with ACC schools, earning wins over Clemson, Virginia Tech, Duke and North Carolina. Florida State also had an unblemished record during the dual meet season at 5-0, while the Hokies and Tar Heels both finished at 3-1, their only losses coming to UVa.

“I would suspect there are four teams that will be in contention to win the meet,” Bernardino said. “We are anticipating a four-team battle, and there are lots of other good athletes from other schools who are going to change how the scoring takes place. We can’t focus on North Carolina, we can’t focus on Florida State, we can’t focus on Virginia Tech. We have to focus on us and do what we are capable of doing.”

Virginia’s strongest events will likely be the 500 free, 1650 free, 200 fly, 200 IM and 400 IM. The Cavaliers have four swimmers listed among the ACC’s top 10 in these events, according to the latest top times list. Both the 200 fly, featuring Elizabeth Shaw (who set an ACC record earlier this season), Claire Crippen and Megan Evo, and the 200 IM, featuring that same trio (Crippen-Evo-Shaw), are listed 1-2-3 on the list.

Lewis is the likely contender for Virginia in the sprint freestyle events, in addition to her attempt to defend the 200 free title. Jenna Harris and Evo will also complete in the 200 free, while Harris, Jen Narum and first-year Katya Bachrouche have top times in the 500 free. Crippen, Harris and Narum are additionally listed on the conference’s top 10 list in the 1650 free.

Shaw, Evo and fourth-year Stephanie Glover are among Virginia’s contenders in the 100 fly, while Amanda Faulkner and Mei Christensen will both be swimming the 100 and 200 backstroke events. Ellie Freeman and Katherine McDonnell will also look to be strong in the breaststroke events for Virginia.

During the regular season, Virginia is listed either first or second in every relay event, including the 800 free relay, where the team of Evo, Harris, Lewis and Kristen Moores swam the event in 7:19.00, the fastest time in the conference to date.

Both the men’s and women’s diving events will take place during the ACC Women’s Championships as well.

Competition begins Wednesday with the 200 medley relay and 800 free relay events.

2008 Women’s ACC Championships
Schedule of Events
Feb. 20-23; Atlanta, Ga.

Wednesday, Feb. 20
200 Medley Relay
800 Free Relay

Thursday, Feb. 21
500 Free
200 IM
50 Free
3-Meter Diving (men)
1-Meter Diving (women)
200 Free Relay

Friday, Feb. 22
400 IM
100 Fly
200 Free
100 Breast
100 Back
1-Meter Diving (men)
3-Meter Diving (women)

Saturday, Feb. 23
200 Back
100 Free
200 Breast
200 Fly
Platform Diving
1650 Free
400 Free Relay

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