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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Virginia women’s swimming team placed ninth at the 2010 NCAA Championships, which wrapped up Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Cavaliers finished with 151 points, just two away from eighth-place Auburn (153). Florida won the team title with 382 points, followed by Stanford (379.5) and California (363).

It was just the third top-10 finish for the Cavaliers in school history, and the highest since the 1988 squad placed seventh. Virginia improved three spots from its 12th-place showing a year ago.

“It was one of the best seasons in the history of the women’s program,” Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino said. “Now we take the next step forward and hope that good things continue to happen. We have a lot of young ones who return who have this experience – 12, in fact.”

The Cavaliers concluded the NCAA Championships with 12 national accolades, including eight All-America and four honorable mention All-America honors. That is the most since the 2003 squad compiled 13 national honors.

Four Virginia seniors – Mei Christensen, Jenna Harris, Katherine McDonnell and Jen Narum – concluded their collegiate careers at these championships. They will go down as one of the most successful classes in school history after being the first to leave with three conference championships.

“We had great senior leadership, led by Mei Christensen, who will be so difficult to replace as a human being, athlete and leader,” Bernardino said. “She is the calm in the storm. Our senior class did a great job taking the team to the next level. This class was 39th, 20th, 12th, and ninth (at the NCAA Championships). That says a lot about who they are and what they have accomplished. Hopefully the crew will pick up the baton next year and have the same drive and desire and see if we can take some more leaps forward. We have to continue to have the mentality that we can compete at the highest level possible and compete for the national championship.”

Christensen wrapped up her outstanding career with a fifth-place performance in the 200 back, touching in 1:52.75, her fastest time of the season. The Reston, Va., native leaves Virginia as the school and conference record holder in both the 100 and 200 backstroke, in addition to being a five-time individual All-American in those events. She was the ACC Swimmer of the Year in 2009.

Perdue, a freshman from Greenville, N.C., finished 14th in the 100 free to conclude her first NCAA Championships as a three-time individual All-American. She broke her own school record earlier in the day during preliminaries (48.61) and touched at 49.00 in the final. Earlier in the week she placed fifth in the 50 free and eighth in the 100 free.

Virginia has not had a three-time individual All-American at one championships since 2003 when Mirjana Bosevska (200 IM, 400 IM, 1650 free) and Cara Lane (500 free, 1650 free, 400 IM) each picked up three accolades. Perdue concludes a freshman season that also included three individual and four relay titles at the ACC Championships en route to being named the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the conference meet. She holds the school record in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events and is the league record holder in the 200 free.

Christine Olson earned the first national accolade of her career after taking 15th in the 200 breast to pick up honorable mention All-America honors. The freshman from Gilbert, Ariz., finished her first NCAA meet with a time of 2:11.43 in the event. She holds the school record (2:09.94) after tying for first-place honors at the ACC Championships last month.

“This meet was a positive learning experience for them,” Bernardino said of Olson and Perdue. “Anytime you compete against the veterans they competed against, you learn. For them to be in championship and consolation finals, that will help them become better athletes in the next three years.”

UVa’s 400 free relay team became the fourth relay of these championships to earn All-American honors after its eighth-place finish. Christensen, Perdue, Kristen Moores and Hannah Davis finished in 3:17.52.

“Relays were the key,” Bernardino said. “I am pretty pleased with what the relays did. We have focused on them all year – that was the major emphasis. They performed very admirably.”

Earlier in the day, Katya Bachrouche, Anne Summer Myers and Narum each competed in the 1650 free. Bachrouche tallied a personal-best time of 16:11.09 to place 19th overall while Narum swam her last race in 16:14.52, her fastest time of the season, to finish 21st. Myers was 31st overall with a mark of 16:25.04.

2010 Women’s NCAA Championships
Team Standings – Top 10

1. Florida 382
2. Stanford 379.5
3. California 363
4. Arizona 359.5
5. Georgia 342.5
6. Texas A&M 311
7. Southern California 251
8. Auburn 153
10. Indiana 133

Virginia’s 2010 All-Americans

Lauren Perdue, Freshman

50 Free – 5th
200 Free – 8th
100 Free – 14th (HM)

Mei Christensen, Senior
100 Back – 4th
200 Back – 5th

Lauren Smart, Sophomore
100 Back – 8th

Claire Crippen, Junior
400 IM – 10th (HM)

Christine Olson, Freshman
200 Breast – 15th (HM)

400 Medley Relay

Mei Christensen, Katherine McDonnell, Lauren Smart, Lauren Perdue – 5th

400 Free Relay
Mei Christensen, Lauren Perdue, Kristen Moores, Hannah Davis – 8th

200 Free Relay
Mei Christensen, Lauren Perdue, Kelly Flynn, Hannah Davis – 8th

800 Free Relay
Kelly Flynn, Jenna Harris, Jen Narum, Kristen Moores – 16th (HM)

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