Swim and dive teams compete in final dual meets of season
The Virginia swimming and diving teams compete in their final dual meets of the season this weekend against Wisconsin and ACC archrival Virginia Tech.
The Cavaliers are coming off an impressive weekend in which both the men and the women secured victories against North Carolina and Duke. The ACC awarded Swimmer of the Week honors to sophomore Ellen Williamson and junior Brad Phillips, and Diver of the Week honors to sophomore JB Kolod and freshman Katie Warburg for their performances in last weekend’s meets.
Williamson earned crucial first-place finishes near the end of the North Carolina meet in the 100 fly and 200 individual medley. She followed up that performance the next day with a victory in the 200 back against Duke.
Phillips finished first in the 500 free against the Tar Heels and went on to win the 200 free and 400 IM against the Blue Devils.
“I’m very happy for Ellen,” coach Mark Bernardino said. “She performed at a moment in the meet where we had finally closed the gap, and I think whichever team had won that butterfly race would have seized the momentum at the end of the meet… That victory really energized our team and gave us the momentum. And then for her to do it again the very next race is the reason why I think she was honored with that award.”
Kolod and Warburg contributed greatly to Virginia’s dominating diving performance against the two ACC schools as the Cavaliers finished first in all eight diving events during the weekend. Kolod set school records in the 3-meter and 1-meter diving events, and Warburg set the school record in the 3-meter.
“I’m particularly proud of our divers,” Bernardino said. “It was so well deserved for Katie and JB. It’s one thing to break school records, but what’s better to me is their ability to step up and compete in high pressure situations and coming out on top.”
The style of this weekend’s meet is unusual. All three teams will swim simultaneously but will be scored as if three separate dual meets were taking place. The meet will consist of 20 events as opposed to the traditional 16 seen in most dual meets.
“It’s going to be a grueling schedule for the swimmers,” Bernardino said. “We’re trying to mimic the NCAA championship schedule of events — we’ll swim all NCAA events. It’s an exciting format and we’re going to give it a try. We’ve never done it before, but we found two other schools who would give it a try as well.”
The No. 10 Virginia women (7-0, 2-0 ACC) will see a formidable opponent in the unranked Hokies (9-4, 4-3 ACC). But the Cavaliers should be prepared for the challenge after defeating the No. 16 Tar Heels (3-2, 1-1 ACC) last Saturday.
“Virginia Tech’s women have had ups and downs this year,” Bernardino said. “They’ve had some sparkling performances, but then had some weekends where they haven’t been as consistent through their lineup.”
Wisconsin (4-5, 2-2 Big 10) has raced against elite programs such as No. 3 California and No. 8 Stanford this season, but fell drastically short in both of those meets. This will be the first ever meeting between Virginia and Wisconsin.
“We’re thrilled and excited that a school with such a strong reputation is coming in here to compete,” Bernardino said.
The Virginia women hope to finish a perfect season in dual meet competition for just the fourth time in program history and the second time in a row.
“It would be really awesome to go undefeated in dual meets, but we actually focus more on ACC championships,” senior Christine Olson said. “We treat dual meets as training for later in the season, but it’s still really good to pull off wins in those anyway.”
The No. 15 Virginia men (6-1, 2-0 ACC) could have a tighter contest against No. 17 Virginia Tech (8-1-1, 3-1-1). The Hokies, who finished second in the conference championships last year, are the third-highest ranked team in the conference and have knocked off three ranked opponents in dual meets, including No. 13 Florida State. The Wisconsin men (4-5, 2-2 Big 10) have had results mirroring their female counterparts, falling short against talented competition.
The Virginia Tech men swept ACC swimming and diving weekly honors last week, a feat the Cavaliers accomplished this week. During the Hokies’ Jan. 12 victory against Tennessee, freshman Joe Bonk won both the 50 and 100 freestyle events and senior Logan Shinholser swept both springboard events — earning Bonk and Shinholser the conference’s weekly accolades.
“We haven’t really had a great rivalry with Tech until recently,” senior Tom Barrett said. “Tech is definitely our biggest rival this year. [Our coaches] told us that our focus is not North Carolina this year like usual, but it’s actually Tech.”
Barrett, who will be the Cavaliers’ main opposition to counter the threatening Hokie sprint freestyle group, said he was excited for the opportunity to see the competition present at the ACC championship meet.
“With sprinting, it’s hard to tell how people will perform midseason,” Barrett said. “You can’t really see everyone’s best until they’re well rested, but I’m excited to see what kind of competition I’m going to see this weekend and maybe get an insight into what they’ll be at ACC’s.”
The meet will take place during three sessions at the Aquatic & Fitness Center: Friday at 5:40 p.m., Saturday at 9 a.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.