No. 11 Virginia Women Head to ACC Championships
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia women’s swimming team will seek its fifth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championship this week in Christiansburg, Va. The event, hosted Virginia Tech, begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center. Event finals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be available for free via live webcast on theACC.com and live results of each session will be available at VirginiaSports.com.
Additionally, the men’s divers – including Virginia’s Briggy Imbriglia and JB Kolod – will compete this week in all three disciplines.
Ranked 11th in the nation, the Cavalier women are the highest-ranked school in the ACC. Virginia owns nine conference championships, all under head coach Mark Bernardino.
“Our work is cut out for us,” Bernardino said. “We were certainly not the favorite coming into this season but I think we have proved our merit and hopefully we’ll swim to our full capabilities. I look forward to seeing our upperclassmen lead this group. I certainly believe they will have a calming influence and understand how to be good for seven sessions. Anytime you compete that long, there will be ups and downs. If we are able to weather those down times, we will be very competitive and in a position to challenge for a title again this year.”
In 2011, the Cavaliers claimed their fourth consecutive title with 776 points, edging out North Carolina on the final day of competition. There are, however, plenty of fresh faces that will make conference championship debuts as only nine return from that 18-member roster that won it all a year ago.
“The landscape of ACC swimming has significantly changed,” Bernardino said. “This is a new team, but in many ways it has been a very exciting team to coach. They have forged their own identity as the season has progressed and we have seen the emergence of an outstanding first year class.”
Five Virginia swimmers return to the championships with individual event wins under their belts, including the two-time ACC Swimmer of the Championships, junior Lauren Perdue. Though she has battled injury for most of the season, Perdue is the two-time defending champion in the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle events and also won the 50 freestyle as a freshman in 2010. Sophomore Rachel Naurath claimed the title in the 200 butterfly in 2011 and junior Christine Olson, who tied for first place in the 200 breaststroke in 2010, is back competing at the conference meet after missing it last year. Sophomore Emily Lloyd and senior Kelly Flynn join Perdue and Naurath as members of previous championship relay teams.
During the dual meet season, Virginia finished undefeated at 8-0, including a 4-0 mark against ACC opponents with victories over Virginia Tech, Duke, North Carolina and NC State.
Competition begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday with the 200 medley relay, followed by the 800 freestyle relay. The men’s swimming championships will take place Feb. 22-25 at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.