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ATLANTA – Senior Claire Crippen won her third crown in the 400 individual medley and sophomore Lauren Perdue repeated in the 200 freestyle as the Virginia women’s swimming team continued competition Friday at the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships. The event, which runs through Saturday, is being held at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Ga.

North Carolina, however, took the lead after 14 events. The Tar Heels (519 points) lead second-place Virginia (482). Florida State is third (294).

“It is certainly unfamiliar territory for this group,” Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino said of trailing. “In the last three years we had significant leads and now we swim in a very difficult position. We are 37 points down to an excellent team who is having a great meet.”

Virginia’s 400 medley relay finished second in the final event of the evening. Fourth entering the final stroke, the freestyle, Perdue brought home a strong finish to put UVa second. Meredith Cavalier, Kelly Flynn, Liz Shaw and Perdue clocked a NCAA ‘B’ time of 3:36.72.

“We fought and we scrapped tonight,” Bernardino continued. “We picked up points where we didn’t think we would get some and people improved. You can only ask for the opportunity to compete for a championship and we have that.”

Crippen set a conference and meet record with an incredible win in the 400 individual medley. She clocked a NCAA ‘A’ time of 4:07.29 to claim the crown, breaking UNC’s Laura Moriarty’s conference and meet record of 4:07.66 set a year ago. Crippen also won the event as a freshman in 2008 and a sophomore in 2009.

“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Crippen said. “I think last year, I was really nervous before my race and that’s just not who I am. So today I just wanted to go out there and have a good race. This is my last year, my last ACCs, and that race today is something I will never forget.”

“It was a big-time emotional victory,” Bernardino said. “It meant a lot for so many reasons. She really turned the team on with such an invigorating performance. It was a great performance and will hopefully set Claire up for some awesome races and NCAAs.”

Crippen was joined by classmates Katya Bachrouche and Anne Summer Myers in the final. Bachrouche was fourth overall (4:13.32, ‘B’) and Myers took fifth (4:15.17, ‘B’). Fellow senior Amanda Faulkner tallied a 16th-place finish with a mark of 4:23.18.

Perdue defended her title in the 200 freestyle, breaking her own ACC and meet record with a NCAA ‘A’ time of 1:43.73. She tied her previous mark of 1:43.86 earlier in the day during the preliminaries. Freshman Rachel Naurath finished second in the event behind Perdue with a NCAA ‘B’ time of 1:45.66. Senior Kristen Moores was sixth overall (1:47.28, ‘B’) while junior Meredith Perdue (1:47.87, ‘B’) placed 10th and senior Hannah Davis (1:48.28, ‘B’) was 12th.

“My excitement and motivation really came from watching Claire’s incredible swim,” Perdue said. “It was awe-inspiring and I really think she set the tone for tonight’s finals. Everybody used the excitement from that race and we swam our hearts out.”

“Records have become the norm for Lauren Perdue,” Bernardino said. “She continues to get better and I don’t think we saw the best of her tonight in the 200 free. Unlike her freshman year when she was a little bit reckless in her racing, she is really swimming with a lot of skill and a lot of poise.”

Virginia represented half of the field in the 100 backstroke with Cavalier leading the way, tying for fourth place in 53.72. Junior Jenny Lewis, competing in her first career ACC final, took sixth with a time of 53.95. Freshman Charlotte Clarke finished seventh (54.59) and junior Erika Stewart was eighth (54.71). All four times were NCAA ‘B’ standards.

Shaw placed seventh overall in the 100 butterfly with a NCAA ‘B’ time of 54.21. Freshmen Emily Lloyd (55.02) and Riley Flanagan (55.05) finished 13th and 14th, respectively, in the event.

Flynn, the lone UVa swimmer in the 100 breaststroke, turned in a 13th-place performance in the event with a NCAA ‘B’ time of 1:02.80.

The fourth and final day of the ACC Championships is set for Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. with preliminaries in the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly and 1650 freestyle. Both men’s and women’s platform diving events will also be contested and the 400 freestyle relay will be the final event of the meet Saturday night.

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