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ATLANTA – The 10th-ranked Virginia men’s swimming team continued competition Thursday at the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Ga. The Cavaliers placed 10 competitors into the evening’s three individual final events.

Virginia got off to a fast start by dominating the prelims of the 500-yard freestyle, advancing six swimmers to the finals. Matt McLean, the winner of the event the last three years, turned in the morning’s best swim at 4:18.82. Jon Daniec was the second-fastest qualifier at 4:20.89. Joining that duo in the finals will be John Snawerdt (4:21.85), David Karasek (4:22.20), Bradley Phillips (4.22.26) and Taylor Smith (4:22.34). Florida State and North Carolina each advanced one competitor into the finals.

Matt Houser and Taylor Grey qualified for the finals in the 200-yard IM. Houser posted the third best time in the prelim races at 1:46.23 while Grey was eighth at 1:47.96. Tom Casey was ninth at 1:48.20 while Tim Hayes tied for 10th at 1:48.24.

In the 50 freestyle, defending ACC champion Scot Robison turned in the second fastest time in the prelims. Robison clocked in at 19.69, just one one-hundredth of a second behind Duke’s Nick Garvy. Peter Gessinger also reached the final by placing eighth at 19.95. Tom Barrett was ninth at 20.11.

“We got off to a good start in the 500, putting six of eight finalists into that event,” said Virginia coach Mark Bernardino. “We followed that up with two each in the 50 and the IM. I guess the back breaker there is that we were ninth place in both of those events. For this team, I feel like the goal was to come in and get three up in the 50 and three up in the IM. Tonight it is critical to hold our position. We’re in a real good place with the 500 free. We should amass a whole lot of points there.”

Virginia enters Tuesday’s finals tied with Clemson for first place with 72 points. North Carolina is third with 68 points. The Cavaliers are looking to win their fourth straight ACC title.

Finals begin tonight at 7 p.m. and will be webcast on ACC Select. The 200 freestyle relay will also be contested tonight.

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