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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia women’s swimming and diving team will seek its fourth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championship this week in Atlanta, Ga. Ranked 11th in the nation, the Cavaliers are the highest-ranked school in the ACC. The event begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. Finals of all events will be broadcast live free of charge on ACC Select and live results of each session will be available through

The Virginia women have won eight conference championships, all under head coach Mark Bernardino. Last year was the first time the Cavaliers claimed three consecutive championships, having won in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Virginia also won back-to-back titles in 1998-1999 and 2003-04, in addition to winning its first title in 1990. The Cavaliers are looking for their fourth straight ACC title, a feat never accomplished before by the women.

“This fourth year class is pretty nervous,” Bernardino said. “I’ve never really seen them nervous before competition; I’ve only seen them excited and challenged. I sense for the first time in their careers some nerves; the magnitude of what they are trying to achieve is starting to sink in a little bit. I hope they can take that nervous energy and use it in a positive way.”

In 2010, Virginia claimed its third consecutive conference championship with 877.5 points, the most since Boston College and Miami joined the conference in 2004. The Cavaliers also claimed all five relays (for the second straight year) to finish ahead of second place North Carolina (642.5) and third place Florida State (545). It was the third straight year Virginia tallied at least 800 points in the victory.

The Tar Heels enter the meet ranked No. 12 in the country while the Seminoles are No. 22.

“North Carolina is an outstanding team,” Bernardino said. “They are deep and very, very talented and on paper are our equal. It’s just going to come down to whether or not our team will be up to the test. It is far easier to be the hunter than the hunted and how we handle the target on our back will be the difference. Florida State is going to come at us in some different directions than North Carolina and in many ways the collective energies of the ACC against the defending champions is what we have to watch out for.”

Seven Virginia swimmers return to the championships with individual event wins under their belts, including the 2010 Swimmer of the Championships, Lauren Perdue. Perdue, a sophomore, will look to defend her titles in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle events. Returning champions Amanda Faulkner (200 IM in 2010), Liz Shaw (200 IM in 2008; 200 butterfly in 2008 and 2010) and Claire Crippen (400 IM in 2008 and 2009), all seniors, also return. Seniors Hannah Davis and Kristen Moores and junior Kelly Flynn join Perdue and Shaw who have also been members of previous championship relay teams.

During the dual meet season, Virginia posted a 6-2 record, with the team’s lone losses on the road at defending national champion Florida (by two points) in the season opener and at Tennessee on Jan. 8. The Cavaliers also went 3-0 in ACC dual meets this year with wins over Duke, North Carolina and NC State.

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

Competition will begin Wednesday evening with the 200 medley relay and 800 free relay. The men’s championships will take place Feb. 23-26 in Atlanta.

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