Virginia men, women shine at Cavalier Invitational
Meet offers swimmers last qualifying opportunity, reveal significant improvements
The Virginia men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams finished out regular season competition this past weekend with impressive showings at the Cavalier Invitational.
Though the meet was first and foremost an opportunity for those not swimming in the ACC Championships to finish their season in a competitive setting, it also served as a proving ground for a small number of women looking to make one of the final three spots on the ACC roster.
“We saw some great improvements from a couple of swimmers, but we still have a huge challenge in front of us to pick the final spot for the ACC Championship team,” coach Mark Bernardino said. “We have to do the best job we can to put the 18 people in the water or on the boards, and we’ll see what happens.”
For some seniors, the meet was the last of their careers and Bernardino had nothing but positive words to say about each of them.
“We had a couple of seniors who I think will be able to go out on a very high note,” Bernardino said. “It’s exciting for them to have a positive to go out on with their teammates here cheering them on and encouraging them.”
The top Cavalier swimmers refrained from participating in individual events but did partake in relays, including an Aquatic and Fitness Center record-breaking performance in the women’s 200 freestyle relay. That team of senior Lauren Perdue and juniors Emily Lloyd, Rachel Naurath and Dana Nessler passed a mark set by Maryland back in 2001.
“Lauren, Dana, Emily and Rachel all did really well in that relay,” junior Jane Munro said. “We’ve been trying to get that record down for a while now. We want to have the most U.Va. names as possible up on that board because we have to look at it every day.”
The women also captured the 400 free relay and both the 200 and 400 medley relays, and the men touched first in the 200 free relay in addition to both medley relays.
The No. 11 Cavalier women (9-0, 3-0 ACC) saw impressive individual performances from freshmen Natalie Martin and Samantha James, junior Riley Flanagan and seniors Meg Hutchinson and Christine Olson. Martin and Olson went first and second respectively in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events, James claimed the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events, Flanagan won the 200 back and 100 fly and Hutchinson captured the 100 back, while finishing second to Flanagan in the 200 back as well.
“Meg Hutchinson had an outstanding meet,” Bernardino said. “She swam lifetime bests in the 100 back and 100 free. Christine Olson also battled back to have a really good breaststroke.”
The No. 8 Virginia men (8-1, 3-0 ACC) saw notable individual performances from freshmen Eric Holden and Greg Stoffa, sophomores Jake Pearce and Charlie Putnam and junior Fred Crawford. Holden finished second in both breaststroke events, Stoffa captured the 500 free, Putnam touched first in the 100 and 200 back in addition to the 400 IM, Crawford won the 200 free while finishing second in the 100 free and Pearce won the 50 and 100 free.
“Jake Pearce had a very solid 50 freestyle,” Bernardino said. “He’s got to work hard and continue to excel. We’re losing our number one sprinter in [senior] Tom Barrett who is graduating this year, so someone needs to step up and take his place. It’ll be interesting to see who uses this meet as a launching pad for success into the next part of this season and into to next year as well.”
The women’s side will seek its sixth consecutive ACC Championship later this week when the meet kicks off Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C. The men will have one last week of training before their championship meet begins the following Wednesday.