March 1, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 8 Virginia women’s swimming and diving team qualified eight student-athletes for individual events at the 2017 NCAA Championships hosted March 15-18 at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind.
The Cavaliers will be represented by seniors Kaitlyn Jones (Newark, Del.), Laura Simon (Simmern, Germany), Leah Smith (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Ellen Thomas (Guildford, United Kingdom), juniors Caitlin Cooper (Atlanta, Ga.) and Jennifer Marrkand (Westford, Mass.), sophomore Vivian Tafuto (Hummelstown, Pa.) and freshman Morgan Hill (Olney, Md.).
It is the ninth straight season all five Virginia relays have qualified. Virginia finished fifth at the NCAA Championships in 2016, marking the second consecutive season to finish in the top-five and matching the program’s best finish. UVA finished with 11 All-America honors in 2016, with four swimmers from that team returning to the championship.
Jones, Simon, Smith and Thomas are four-time qualifiers for the NCAA Championships. An 11-time All-American, Smith is a four-time NCAA Champion after winning the 1,650 free and the 500 free in 2015 and 2016. She currently holds the second fastest times in the country in both events.
Simon is a 10-time All-American and placed third in the 400 medley relay at the 2016 NCAA Championships along with Thomas, who is a nine-time All-American, and Jones who is a seven-time All-American. Simon qualified for the 100 and 200 breaststroke. She is the 2017 ACC Champion in the 100 and finished second in the 200.Jones will swim the 200 IM, 100 and 200 butterfly events. Thomas qualified in the 50 free and has been on four of the five relays the last two years.
Cooper and Marrkand qualified for the third time. Cooper is a six-time All-American and helped the 200 medley relay team to a fourth-place finish in 2016, while Marrkand is a five-time All-American and anchored the 800 freestyle relay team in a fifth-place finish in the 2016 NCAA Championships. Marrkand made the field in the 200 IM, 200 free and 200 fly, while Cooper will swim the 50 free.
Tafuto is making her second NCAA Championship appearance in the 100 breast, while Hill is making her first appearance in the 100 free.
A total of 322 participants (281 swimmers and 41 divers) will compete in the championships. Swimmers qualified for the championships by meeting the established minimum time for the events in which they entered. Divers will be determined by performances at the Zone Diving Meets held March 6-11. Selected divers will be announced Sunday, March 12.
ESPN3.com will stream the championships finals sessions live on Friday and Saturday. Wednesday’s evening session, Thursday’s sessions along with the morning sessions on Friday and Saturday will be streamed live on NCAA.com and indianasportscorp.org/ncaasd. Additionally, ESPNU will air a two-hour broadcast via tape delay at 7 p.m. Eastern time, Tuesday, March 28. Live results for the championships will be available on NCAA.com.
Virginia’s Individual Qualifiers
Caitlin Cooper – Atlanta, Ga.
Morgan Hill – Olney, Md.
100 Freestyle, 200 Freestyle
Kaitlyn Jones – Newark, Del.
100 Butterfly, 200 Butterfly, 200 Individual Medley
Jennifer Marrkand – Westford, Mass.
200 Freestyle, 200 Butterfly, 200 Individual Medley
Laura Simon – Simmern, Germany
100 Breaststroke, 200 Breaststroke
Leah Smith – Pittsburgh, Pa.
200 freestyle, 500 Freestyle, 1,650 Freestyle
Vivian Tafuto – Hummelstown, Pa.
Ellen Thomas – Guildford, United Kingdom