Men's swimming and diving team look to echo women's success
Cavaliers enter ACC Championships ranked number one, dominate distance freestyle events
The No. 9 Virginia men’s swimming and diving team looks to replicate the results of the No. 11 women’s squad as it travels to Greensboro, N.C. this week seeking a first place finish on the men’s side of the ACC Championship.
The Cavalier men (8-1, 3-0 ACC), like the women, have dominated the conference in recent history, especially at the championship meet. They have captured every ACC title but one since 1999 and are looking to win again for the sixth straight year. The women’s team captured its sixth consecutive conference title this past weekend, a feat sophomore David Ingraham said only gives the team more confidence.
“It really gives us confidence in performing just as well as they did, knowing that we worked just as hard as them in practice.” Ingraham said. “That only bodes well for us in our meet and gives us a huge boost of confidence.”
The Virginia men enter the championship meet sitting as sole owners of first place in the conference standings and have already beaten two of the next three teams in dual meet competition.
“We had a really good dual meet season this year, so I think our confidence is at an all-time high right now,” senior Tom Barrett said. “Everyone is feeling really good and really rested. I think everyone is really excited.”
The swimming portion of the meet begins Wednesday evening, but the male divers completed their events last weekend. Virginia currently sits in fourth place with 65 points behind Virginia Tech, Duke and Florida State. Virginia is fewer than 30 points behind both the Blue Devils (1-6, 0-5 ACC) and the Seminoles (8-2, 3-1 ACC), but the Hokies (9-2-1, 3-2-1 ACC) have a firm lead on the rest of the pack with 138 points.
“We already know where we stand relative to the diving scores going in,” coach Mark Bernardino said. “That’s the most points we’ve scored in diving in a very long time, so we’re really thrilled about where we stand … Unfortunately, Virginia Tech had a monster diving meet and really put up a significant amount of points on the board. We’ll just have to do the best we can to chip away at that lead.”
Sophomore JB Kolod led the way for the Cavalier divers, finishing fourth in 1-meter diving, third in 3-meter diving and eighth in the platform event. Kolod was joined by freshman Carl Buergler as the only other Virginia diver to compete.
Similar to the women’s team, the Virginia men boast a plethora of swimmers who can legitimately contend for individual conference titles. Only four events do not feature a Cavalier among the three fastest times posted in the ACC this season and only two events do not include a Cavalier in the top six. And after a few weeks of tapering, Bernardino expects those time will only improve.
“I would be very disappointed if we didn’t swim a lot of lifetime bests at this meet,” Bernardino said. “We’ve pointed at this. This is what we’ve peaked for. This is what we put our heart and soul in for.”
In sprint freestyle events, the Cavaliers will be led by Barrett, with help from sophomore Jake Pearce. Barrett holds the conference-leading time in the 200 this season, and his 50 and 100 times are good for sixth- and third-best, respectively. Pearce ranks No. 12 in the 50 and No. 10 in the 100 this season.
“I’d personally like to go best times in all my events,” Barrett said. “I’m feeling good in the water at the moment. Obviously I’d like to place pretty high in the 200, and see how high I can get in the 50 and 100 — there are some really fast guys from Florida State.”
The Cavaliers’ forte will likely be the distance freestyle events. Junior Parker Camp posted the third best conference time in the 200 this season, and the junior duo of Jan Daniec and Brad Phillips have been exceptionally reliable point-scorers in the 500, 1000 and 1650. Daniec posts the first, third and second fastest ACC times on the season in those three events, respectively, and Phillips enters ACCs as the fourth, second and sixth fastest, respectively.
“I think we’ll be very strong in the 500 free and the mile ,” Bernardino said. “The distance guys are terrific athletes. But it’s such a competitive conference that every team has a guy that can win every event.”
In the other strokes, the Cavaliers will look to dominate the backstroke and individual medley events. Virginia holds five of the conference’s 10 fastest times of the season in the 100 back, led by junior Jack Murfee in third. In the 200 back, four Cavaliers rank in the top 10 on the year, including freshman Luke Papendick and senior Brady Fox, who are both among the top four.
Ingraham leads the conference in both the 200 IM and 400 IM on the year, and is joined by a slew of other Cavaliers ranking in the top 10 in both those events.
“For me, I’d definitely like to win my events, but just for the sake of getting points for the team,” Ingraham said. “I’ll also try to advance to NCAAs in March, which is a really big goal for a lot of the guys of the team. We’re trying to swim fast just for the points and to make a big statement on the national scene.”
Among the other teams in attendance at the meet, Bernardino believes Virginia will face its greatest competition from Virginia Tech and Florida State. The Hokies finished second to Virginia at last year’s ACC Championship and the Seminoles are the only other team besides Virginia to win an ACC title in the last 12 years. The Cavaliers defeated Virginia Tech in a dual meet in late January but did not face Florida State.
“Florida State has their best team since their championship team of 2007,” Bernardino said. “This a very good and very dangerous Florida State team.”
The swimming portion of the meet begins Wednesday and will continue through Saturday night.
“As a team, we’re definitely pretty confident and expect to win,” Ingraham said. “We know that we have some formidable opponents, but we’re looking forward to racing those guys and the opportunity to have a competitive meet. We’re definitely expecting to come out on top.”