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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Virginia women’s swimming team won its third consecutive and eighth overall Atlantic Coast Conference title and freshman Lauren Perdue was tabbed the meet’s most valuable swimmer of the championships Saturday at Koury Natatorium in Chapel Hill, N.C.

It was the first time in school history Virginia has won three consecutive conference championships. Seniors Mei Christensen, Jenna Harris, Colleen Law, Katherine McDonnell, Jen Narum and Leslie Swinley make up the most successful class in UVa history.

“Winning never gets old,” Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino said. “I am just thrilled for these kids; what a tremendous effort they have put in since last March. We beat some very talented teams at this meet. It’s a special win for this group. The credit belongs to the seniors – their dedication and ability to keep this team together allows us to have the kind of chemistry to make special things happen.”

The Cavaliers finished with 877.5 points en route to winning 14 of 18 swimming events, including all five relays, to finish ahead of second place North Carolina (642.5) and third place Florida State (545). It was the third straight year Virginia has tallied at least 800 points in the victory.

“This one means the most,” Christensen said. “We broke the curse of only winning two – winning three in a row just sets us up for more success in the future. This being my senior year, I am glad this is something I will be able to look back on with pride.”

Perdue won the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free and was a member of four of Virginia’s five winning relay teams. It was the second year in a row a Cavalier has earned the honor; Christensen received the award as a junior in 2009.

“It is so well-deserved,” Bernardino said of Perdue’s award. “She is such a catalyst to our success. To win seven events, swim the kind of times and perform the way she did as a first year, she made great things happen.”

Perdue also became the fifth person in school history to win all three of her individual events and the first since Mirjana Bosevska won the 200 fly, 200 IM and 400 IM in 2002. Perdue is just the second Cavalier to do it in her freshman year. Cara Lane claimed the 500 free, 1650 free and 200 fly as a freshman in 2000 and later went on to win two national championships.

“It is so much fun to be a part of this team,” Perdue. “We have come a long way and we are going to keep rising to the top. I am so thrilled to be part of this; we made history tonight and that is a great feeling. I am happy to be part of this team. That is all I can ask for.”

On the fourth and final day of the conference championships, Virginia took first-place honors in the 200 back, 100 free, tied for the 200 breast title and went 1-2 in the 200 fly, in addition to capping the meet with a victory in the 400 free relay.

“We love the last day; we train all year for the last day,” Bernardino said. “We call the last day ‘Mighty Fine Day’ and it was today. To win five of six swimming races is really difficult to do.”

Perdue, a Greenville, N.C. native, took top honors in the 100 free, breaking her own school record with an NCAA ‘B’ time of 48.65. That mark also broke the pool record she set earlier this year against UNC. Hannah Davis and Kelly Flynn tied for fifth place, each touching in 49.69 for an NCAA ‘B’ standard.

Christensen defended her title in the 200 back with an NCAA ‘A’ time of 1:52.98 and set a pool record. The Reston, Va., native claimed the 100 back earlier in the week and took both titles for the second consecutive year. She was followed by teammates Lauren Smart (1:54.45, ‘B’) and Erika Stewart (1:56.45, ‘B’) who finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

“We have individual races but collectively we are a team, and all our swims add up to that team score,” Christensen said. “It was by far the best ACCs I have had. In the end, you can look back and remember all the good times.”

Freshman Christine Olson shared the 200 breast title with UNC’s Laura Moriarty; they both touched at 2:09.94, an NCAA ‘A’ time, in addition to being a conference and meet record. The previous conference record was set by North Carolina’s Layne Brodie (2:10.04) at the league championships a year ago. Senior Katherine McDonnell placed fifth (2:12.60, ‘B’) and Amanda Faulkner was sixth (2:12.74, ‘B’).

In the final event before the relay, juniors Liz Shaw and Claire Crippen came from behind to pass Maryland’s Jen Vogel and go 1-2 in the 200 fly. Shaw clocked a winning time of 1:57.17 while Crippen finished in 1:58.55; both were NCAA ‘B’ times.

Virginia then won the 400 free relay in dominating fashion, clocking an NCAA ‘B’ time of 3:15.24, just .03 seconds away from breaking its own conference and school record. Christensen, Flynn, Moores and Perdue teamed up to bring home the top finish.

The Cavaliers will compete in the 2010 NCAA Championships March 18-20 in West Lafayette, Ind.

2010 Women’s ACC Championships
Final Team Standings

1. Virginia 877.5
2. North Carolina 642.5
3. Florida State 545
4. Maryland 388
5. Virginia Tech 385.5
6. Duke 283
7. NC State 271
8. Clemson 177.5
9. Georgia Tech 155.5
10. Miami 94.5
11. Boston College 48
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