Virginia's 800 Freestyle Relay Takes Ninth at NCAA Championships
AUBURN, Ala. – Virginia’s 800 freestyle relay team took ninth place Friday as the 2012 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships continued in Auburn, Ala. The meet, which runs through Saturday, is being held at the James E. Martin Aquatic Center on the Auburn campus.
Sophomore Rachel Naurath, sophomore Caroline Kenney, freshman Emily Dicus and freshman Ellen Williamson clocked a time of 7:03.68 in the timed final event to earn honorable mention All-America accolades. That relay also earned 18 points toward the team standings, moving the Cavaliers into 18th with a day of competition remaining.
“Nothing gets me more excited as a coach than great relay performances because it speaks to team chemistry,” head coach Mark Bernardino said. “This relay came into the meet knowing they were without one of the top 200 freestylers in the country (in Lauren Perdue). We watched four girls step up and do the same time we did with Lauren in that relay. To me that is just an absolutely amazing and powerful team moment. Ellen has only swam one 200 freestyle race this season and she dropped four seconds off her lifetime best. We got a spectacular leadoff leg from Rachel who dropped from her morning time for her team. It was a great experience for Emily and boy did she come through. Caroline has been very steady for us and has been a lot of the glue on that relay. It’s not a championship or a record but it really speaks to the character of this team.”
Naurath’s leadoff split of 1:44.52 was a career-best time and also ranks as the second-fastest in Virginia history behind Lauren Perdue’s ACC record time of 1:42.51.
“I completely changed how I swam that race,” Naurath said. “There is nothing better than getting to lead off the relay because I know I have everybody behind me. I was confident and we were all excited before the race. We missed Lauren a lot but it bodes very well for the future.”
“We are all really happy with our performance tonight,” Dicus said. “We were all a little but nervous but after she swam the first leg that did a lot for our morale.”
Sophomore Charlotte Clarke earned her first career honorable mention All-America accolade in the 100 backstroke. Appearing in her first NCAA Championships, Clarke touched in 52.96 to place 14th overall in the event. Her prelim time of 52.64 was a lifetime best and ranks third all-time in the Virginia record books.
“She couldn’t have been better than she was this morning,” Bernardino said of Clarke. “It was one of the tightest races of the meet. She raced very aggressively and her underwaters were exceptional. That was a big lift for the team at a moment where we needed it. She has shown tremendous improvement from where she was a year ago.”
Junior Meredith Cavalier was one spot away from claiming honorable mention All-America status in the 100 backstroke. She finished 17th out of the morning with a time of 52.88.
Redshirt freshman Megan Fox placed 18th in the 400 individual medley with a mark of 4:10.58. Sophomore Rachel Naurath also turned in an 18th-place performance in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:45.57; her career best in the event is 1:45.56.
Also in the 200 freestyle, Kenney took 35th place in 1:47.21 and classmate Emily Lloyd finished 50th in 1:48.18. Both of those marks were personal best times.
A trio of freshman represented the Cavaliers in the 100 butterfly. Williamson tallied a 30th-place finish (53.50), while Sarah White was 50th (54.57) and Dicus was 55th (55.03).
Senior Kelly Flynn was 47th in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.42) while Dicus went on to finish 58th in the 100 backstroke (55.28).
Virginia’s 200 medley relay team of Clarke, Flynn, Williamson and Cavalier took 18th overall in 1:39.46.
“We knew we brought a young team,” Bernardino said. “Each day, each race it seems they are getting better and getting critical experience. If this team can find a way to be top-20, we can set our sights on rebuilding ourselves into a top-10 team in the near future.”
Day three of the NCAA Championships continues Saturday with the 200 backstroke, 200 freestyle, 200 breaststroke,200 butterfly, 1650 freestyle, platform diving and the 400 freestyle relay. Preliminaries begin at 11 a.m. Central (12 p.m. Eastern) with finals commencing at 7 p.m. Central (8 p.m. Eastern). Links to live webcasts and live results are available on VirginiaSports.com.
|2012 NCAA Women’s Championships|
|Team Standings (through event 14)|
|3. Southern California||226|
|7. Texas A&M||185|
|10. Arizona State||99|