Virginia Makes History with Fourth Consecutive ACC Crown
ATLANTA – The Virginia women’s swimming team made history Saturday, collecting its fourth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championship. The Cavaliers trailed by 37 points entering the final session to rival North Carolina, but was able to fight back to claim the crown.
UVa’s Class of 2011 – Katya Bachrouche, Claire Crippen, Hannah Davis, Amanda Faulkner, Jennings Grant, Kristen Moores, Anne Summer Myers and Liz Shaw – become the first group to depart with four conference titles.
“This class has been motivated to be the best they can be, every day, for four years,” Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino said. “They are as close as sisters – their bond is unbelievable. I knew they would never refuse to give in; they have such a strong belief in one another.”
The Cavaliers tallied a total of 776 points to finish ahead of second-place North Carolina (734) and third-place Florida State (417). It was Virginia’s ninth conference title, all under Bernardino.
“This entire week was incredible,” Crippen said. “It was awesome that we had to come from behind today because it brought the best out of every single person. It was amazing to see this team perform at the level we did today.”
Sophomore Lauren Perdue was tabbed the meet’s most outstanding swimmer for the second consecutive year.
Virginia ended the meet with a dominating performance in the 400 freestyle relay. The team of Perdue, Moores, Emily Lloyd and Davis clocked a NCAA ‘B’ time of 3:15.68 to claim first-place honors in the event.
“I told them last night we needed to come into this pool and light this place on fire,” Bernardino said. “We needed to take it one race at a time, one event at a time and everyone of them had to be the best they have ever been in their lives. They needed to be motivated and ready to walk through fire for each other. And they did it.”
Virginia’s 1-2-3 finish in the 200 butterfly gave the Cavaliers a 34-point lead with one event left. Freshman Rachel Naurath capped her first ACC Championships with a victory in the event, clocking a NCAA ‘B’ time of 1:55.88. Seniors Liz Shaw (1:57.85, ‘B’) and Claire Crippen (1:57.98, ‘B’) finished second and third, respectively, to sweep the event.
“We were still down going into the race but we had definite potential to go 1-2-3,” Naurath said. “I just concentrated on swimming my own race and I knew the seniors on both sides of me would do the same thing – they’ve been doing it for four years now. It was unbelievable; I was honored to stand on the same podium with Claire and Liz.”
“We knew we couldn’t take the lead until late in the day,” Bernardino said. “Champions are at their best when they have to overcome adversity. This team has never had to do that before. This brought forth a whole other element and showed characteristics of these women that we haven’t seen before. They never panicked; they knew they could do this if they stuck together.”
Perdue broke her own school record and set an ACC and meet record with a NCAA ‘B’ time of 47.88 in the 100 freestyle. Perdue’s previous record of 48.11 was set in December at the Georgia Invitational. The previous conference and meet record was set by Virginia Tech’s Sara Smith (48.10) in 2009.
“I was a little surprised I went that fast,” Perdue said. “I am so excited about it and being able to be here with such an amazing group of people. I love this team; everyone works so hard. We all swam for our seniors. They deserve this.”
Perdue was joined by three teammates in the 100 freestyle final. Moores placed fifth (49.54), Emily Lloyd seventh (49.60) and Davis eighth (49.62); all three times were NCAA ‘B’ standards.
Junior Kelly Flynn made her way to the podium after turning in an all-conference performance in the 200 breaststroke. Flynn clocked a NCAA ‘B’ time of 2:11.97 to place third. Senior Amanda Faulkner took seventh with a ‘B’ mark of 2:15.03.
Senior Katya Bachrouche, who placed second in the 500 freestyle, turned in a second-place finish in the 1650 freestyle. Bachrouche recorded a NCAA ‘B’ time of 16:09.09 in the event; classmate Anne Summer Myers was fifth overall with a ‘B’ mark of 16:16.43.