Men’s, women’s squads host Cavalier Invitational
Coach Mark Bernardino to use meet to finalize ACC Championship women’s roster
With an undefeated dual meet season already under its belt, all eyes are on the ACC Championship meet for the No. 11 women’s swimming and diving team.
Due to conference regulations, the Cavaliers (9-0, 3-0 ACC) will be forced to cut down their roster size for the championship meet next week, making this weekend’s Cavalier Invitational a final chance for some swimmers to make their case for the select squad.
“This meet is really important because there are a bunch of girls who still haven’t made the ACC team,” junior Hillary Petersen said. “There are three more spots left on the team, and each spot will be crucial for us in term of getting points at ACC’s. It’s really important that the best three girls get those spots.”
The Cavalier women are five-time reigning ACC champions, but this year’s team is anything but guaranteed to repeat for its sixth. No. 22 Florida State, whom Virginia has yet to encounter this season, is also undefeated in ACC competition, and North Carolina came very close to taking down the Cavaliers earlier in January.
“It’s a little bit stressful,” junior Charlotte Clarke said. “Because we have so much depth, it’s obviously very hard for [coach Mark Bernardino] to choose the team. It comes down to right before we leave for him to decide who is swimming the best. He would never make an uninformed decision.”
In addition to serving as a proving ground for a select number of female swimmers, the Cavalier Invite also serves a chance for those not competing in the ACC meet on both the men’s and women’s squads to race one final time this season in a competitive setting.
“There’s a dual purpose here,” Bernardino said. “For those who aren’t selected, it will serve as an end of the season meet where they’re able to race to the best of their abilities after tapering … it gives them a chance to see what they have accomplished over the course of a full training season.”
The Cavaliers have been tapering in practice for nearly three weeks in preparation for the conference championships, putting swimmers a perfect position to post quick times. Bernardino said that this weekend’s meet will be all about times and individual performances, with little emphasis on the opposing teams.
“We’re slowly scaling down practice and getting faster,” Petersen said. “I think for the girls not yet on the ACC team, some really fast times will be posted.”
The men’s team (8-1, 3-0 ACC) does not have its ACC Championship until two weeks from now, so Bernardino is declining to use the Cavalier Invite to finalize his male championship roster.
“We’ll have a few men swimming in this meet to gauge where they are, but this meet will not be the determining factor relative to selection for them,” Bernardino said.
The men will likely hold a time trial session without other schools in attendance while the women are away at ACC’s next weekend.
Several teams will attend this weekend’s meet, but like the Cavaliers, none of them will be fielding a full roster. Schools will include Drexel, Old Dominion, Duke, Penn, William & Mary and James Madison..
“This is a meet to swim for time, not to score out winning and losing teams,” Bernardino said. “This is a meet strictly for time and individual performances.”