Swim and dive dominate championship-style competition
Men, women maintain second consecutive year of undefeated dual meets
The Virginia men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams ended the dual meet portion of their seasons this weekend with victories against Wisconsin and ACC rival Virginia Tech. With the wins, No. 10 women’s team finished the season undefeated in dual meets for the second consecutive year.
“It feels great to know that every time we’ve come into dual meets we’ve done our best and that it’s really paid off,” junior Caroline Kenney said.
The Virginia women (9-0, 3-0 ACC) defeated the Hokies (9-6, 4-4 ACC) 214-151 and the Badgers (5-6, 2-2 Big 10) 182-176, while the No. 11 Virginia men (8-1, 3-0 ACC) defeated No. 17 Virginia Tech (9-2-1, 3-2-1 ACC) 202.5-167.5 and Wisconsin (4-7, 2-2 Big 10) 185-163.
“[Coach] Mark [Bernardino] told us that Tech was going to be one of our biggest opponents at ACCs, so it felt really good to beat them.” junior Jan Daniec said. “I think with that we sent a really strong message to the whole conference.”
The meets took place in three sessions, one Friday and two Saturday, and consisted of 20 events — different than the traditional 16-event format seen in dual meets — to reflect the style of a championship meet. Most events consisted of two heats with swimmers from all three schools in each, but in both men’s and women’s competition, teams were scored as if three separate dual meets were taking place.
“I thought it was a great experience for all the teams that were here,” Bernardino said. “Looking at the setup of the meet in hindsight though, there was a really fast turnaround from session two to session three [Saturday]. All and all, for our teams, I think there were real positives. Some of our athletes have further identified themselves as people we want to have on our ACC Championship team.”
In the first session, both the men and the women were able to secure early leads that they never relinquished. The men’s performance was highlighted by first overall finishes by sophomore JB Kolod in 3-meter diving and senior Tom Barrett in the 100 free, as well as a first through third sweep of the 1650-yard freestyle by Daniec, junior Brad Phillips and freshman Chris Webb. The evening, however, ended in mild disappointment for the men when the Virginia Tech 400 freestyle relay out-touched the Cavaliers by .04 seconds to claim first in the event.
The women opened up the meet Friday with first overall finishes in the 1650 free by junior Rachel Naurath and the 100 free by senior Lauren Perdue. The Cavalier women wrapped up the evening by winning the 400 freestyle relay as well.
“After each session, I came out feeling as if it was a positive session,” Bernardino said. “We did more things well than we could have hoped for. The athletes were very mentally and physically tough.”
Saturday, the men earned first place overall finishes in five total individual events — Daniec in the 400 IM and 500 free, junior Parker Camp in the 200 free, junior Taylor Grey in the 100 breast and senior Tom Barrett in the 50 free. The Cavaliers swept both the 400 IM and the 200 free. Additionally, the Cavalier team of Daniec, Camp, freshman Nick Alexiou and senior Nathan Vredeveld captured first place in the 800 free relay.
“I think as a team we raced really well,” Daniec said. “In my events, it’s always nice to win, but it’s even sweeter to sweep an event, like we did in the 400 IM and the [1650 free]. I think that was a good performance by us.”
The women finished Saturday with four individual top overall finishes — Perdue in the 200 free, freshman Courtney Bartholomew in the 100 back, Kenney in the 500 free and sophomore Ellen Williamson in the 200 IM. The women also captured wins in the 800 free relay and the 400 medley relay.
“I think we did well as a team,” Kenney said. “I think a lot of people really stepped up, and that we’re all getting really excited to start getting ready for ACCs … I was really happy with my weekend as well, especially my 500. It’s just nice to be able to have good swims like that.”
Though the Virginia divers fell to the Hokies in three of the four diving events, the Cavaliers still had an impressive weekend on the boards. After the meets, all of Virginia’s nine divers have now qualified for the NCAA Zone Championships in March. In addition, Kolod broke the school record on the 3-meter board, a mark that he set just last week.
“There were a lot of bright spots over the weekend, including diving,” Coach Bernardino said. “The way JB Kolod continues to perform is very impressive. He had a huge win on the 3-meter board against an All-American who has been undefeated on the year up until this point.”
The Cavaliers will have three weeks off before they compete in their next meet — the Cavalier Invitational Feb. 15.