Cavalier Women Seek Third Consecutive ACC Crown
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia women’s swimming team will seek its third consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championship this week in Chapel Hill, N.C. Ranked 11th in the nation, the Cavaliers are the highest-ranked school in the ACC. The event begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday at North Carolina’s Koury Natatorium. Finals of all events will be broadcast live free of charge on ACC Select and live results of each session will be available through VirginiaSports.com.
The Virginia women have won seven conference championships, all under head coach Mark Bernardino, including back-to-back titles in 1998-1999, 2003-04 and 2008-09 (The other was in 1990). The Cavaliers are looking for their third straight ACC title, a feat never accomplished before by the women.
“I feel more pressure than they feel,” Bernardino said. “For me as a coach, I want to get over that hump (of winning three in a row) so we can move on. I hope it is not added pressure; I really think this is a very confident, veteran team. I don’t think they view this as pressure; I think they view this as something they are really looking forward to accomplishing.”
In 2009, Virginia claimed its second straight conference championship with 848 points, the most since Boston College and Miami joined the conference in 2004. The Cavaliers also claimed all five relays to finish ahead of second place North Carolina (602.5) and third place Virginia Tech (451).
“I don’t want to make ACCs the end-all to the season – our goal is to crack the top-10 at NCAAs. We want to win a third conference championship and part of that, part of accomplishing both of those goals, is relay success.”
In addition to the team title and five relay championships, senior Mei Christensen will try to repeat her wins in both the 100 and 200 backstroke events, while junior Claire Crippen looks for a three-peat in the 400 IM.
Freshman Lauren Perdue has already made ACC history this season, setting conference and school records in both the 50 free (22.40) and 100 free (48.78) at the Koury Natatorium on the UNC campus earlier this year.
Perdue also owns the ACC’s fastest time of 2009-10 in the 200 free (1:45.32); all three of her freestyle events have been NCAA ‘B’ times. Senior Jen Narum also leads the league in the 500 free (4:46.05, ‘B’) and the 1000 free (9:49.37). Christensen has posted the fastest time in both the 100 (52.93, ‘A’) and 200 (1:55.11, ‘B’) back. Sophomore Lauren Smart leads the field thus far in the 100 fly (53.92, ‘B’), junior Liz Shaw leads in the 200 fly (1:56.84, ‘B’) and Crippen leads in the 400 IM (4:11.20, ‘B’).
The Cavaliers have also posted the fastest times in the conference, all ‘B’ standards, in each of the five relays heading into the conference championships.
During the dual meet season, Virginia posted a 9-1 record, with the team’s lone loss at home to sixth-ranked Florida in the season opener. The Cavaliers were a perfect 4-0 in dual meets against ACC schools with wins over Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina and Duke.
Both the men’s and women’s diving events will take place during the ACC Women’s Championships as well. Those events will be held on the Duke University campus.
Competition will begin Wednesday evening with the 200 medley relay and 800 free relay. The men’s championships will take place Feb. 24-27 in Chapel Hill.