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AUBURN, Ala. – The Virginia women’s swimming team picked up four All-America honors Saturday en route to a 17th-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships. The meet was held at the James E. Martin Aquatic Center on the Auburn campus.

The Cavaliers finished with 60 points at the three-day event and posted their fifth consecutive top-20 finish at the national meet. Virginia also had nine of its 11 swimmers accumulate at least one All-America or honorable mention All-America accolade.

“I am very proud of this team,” Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino said. “Coming here with such a young group that performed with such intensity. They understand that when adversity strikes, there is opportunity. We had a lot of women who grabbed that opportunity which they didn’t realize may have been there. That will really help us move forward in the future and try to help us be a steady top-10 team.”

Freshman Ellen Williamson and junior Meredith Cavalier got the night started with All-America performances in the 200 backstroke. Both finalists for the first time, Williamson took sixth overall in 1:54.04 and Cavalier was eighth in 1:55.36.

“This morning I wanted to get out fast and have a shot at top-16,” Williamson said. “I went out my best 100 (yard) and tried to bring it home. Since I barely snuck into eighth place, I knew tonight I had nothing to lose. I just went out and raced and was relaxed. This was a huge learning experience, to watch all of the records fall. It will be good to remember this when training for the upcoming year and coming back next season with something to prove.”

In the prelims, Cavalier set a lifetime best in 1:52.89, the second-fastest in Virginia history. Williamson’s mark of 1:53.82 was also a career-best and ranks third all-time in the record books.

“We had a very special morning,” Bernardino said. “Meredith’s performance was spectacular and it was shame she wasn’t able to replicate that tonight. She had a lot of swims over the course of the weekend. Ellen had an outstandinf meet. Hopefully it will speak well for the future of our program as she moves on to become one of our leaders in and out of the water.”

Freshman Alison Haulsee and the 400 freestyle relay went on to earn honorable mention All-America accolades. Haulsee was 16th in the 200 butterfly to collect her first career honor; she touched in 1:58.80 at night after swimming a prelim time of 1:56.55.

“This was a difficult meet for freshman to score in and it was great to have Alison score and get the opportunity to race,” Bernardino said. “She gained some valuable experience along with the rest of our freshmen this weekend.”

The 400 freestyle relay team of Cavalier, Emily Lloyd, Rachel Naurath and Kelly Flynn snuck into the consolation final with a 16th-place showing in preliminaries and finished 15th overall at night for another honorable mention All-America performance. Virginia touched in 3:18.11.

“We sure wish our relay could have finished a little bit better but we’ll come back next year and work on being able to finish the meet well,” Bernardino said.

It was the final swim in a Virginia cap for Flynn, a native of The Woodlands, Texas. She was a Cavalier for three seasons and leaves as a five-time All-American as a member of UVa relays.

Earlier in the day, sophomore Caroline Kenney registered a 21st-place performance in the 200 backstroke (1:55.25) while classmate Charlotte Clarke was 33rd overall (1:56.96).

Redshirt freshman Megan Fox finished 28th in the 200 butterfly (1:57.78) while Naurath and freshman Sarah White both touched in 2:58.34 to tie for 29th place.

2012 NCAA Women’s Championships
Team Standings (Top 20)
1. California 412.5
2. Georgia 366
3. Southern California 325.5
4. Stanford 318
5. Arizona 299
6. Texas A&M 262
7. Auburn 249
7. Tennessee 249
9. Texas 201
10. Florida 160
11. Minnesota 131
12. Arizona State 123
13. Indiana 115
14. Missouri 98
15. Wisconsin 91
16. SMU 67
18. Virginia Tech 51
19. North Carolina 44
20. Ohio State 34

Virginia’s 2012 All-Americans

Meredith Cavalier, Jr.
200 Backstroke – 8th

Charlotte Clarke, So.
100 Backstroke – 14th (HM)

Alison Haulsee, Fr.
200 Butterfly – 16th (HM)

Rachel Naurath, So.
500 Freestyle – 10th (HM)

Ellen Williamson, Fr.
200 Backstroke – 6th
200 Individual Medley – 14th (HM)

800 Free Relay – 9th (HM)
Rachel Naurath, Caroline Kenney, Emily Dicus, Ellen Williamson

400 Free Relay – 15th (HM)
Meredith Cavalier, Emily Lloyd, Rachel Naurath, Kelly Flynn

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