Swim & Dive faces rising Wolfpack
Cavaliers prepare for NC State on heels of emotional North Carolina meet
Any dual-meet can be exciting for swimmers and fans alike, but one that comes down to the final event against a bitter rival is sure to be nothing short of legendary. When the Virginia swim and dive team faced rival North Carolina Saturday, both the men’s and women’s meets came down to the final event, with the women defeating the Tar Heels 152-146, and the men coming up just short, falling 154-145.
The meet is sure to set the tone for Virginia’s matchup against North Carolina State this Saturday, with the roller coaster finish leaving a strong impact on Virginia coach Augie Busch.
“The North Carolina meet might have been the most exciting dual meet I have ever been a part of,” Busch said. “That was awesome.”
The Virginia women’s team trailed for the majority of the meet. But the Cavaliers won four of the last six women’s events, placing second in the other two. The late-meet exhilaration brought the Virginia swimmers newfound energy to encourage their teammates from the pool deck.
“Halfway through the meet, they read the score, and I think we were 20 points behind, but we knew we had a lot of strong events coming up in the second half,” junior Ellen Williamson said. “A lot of people were done at that point too, so we had pretty much everyone cheering for every event. Everyone set off the excitement for the last four or five events.”
After placing a disappointing third place earlier in the meet in the 200-yard butterfly, Williamson stormed back, winning the meet’s final two individual events, the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley, to propel the Cavalier women to victory. She was rewarded for her efforts on Tuesday when she was named ACC Female Swimmer of the Week.
No. 20 Virginia men will face the No. 21 NC State men Saturday, while the No. 9 Virginia women will face an NC State women’s team which just dropped out of the rankings after a loss to Minnesota last weekend. While this will be Virginia’s fourth meet in as many weekends, the physical toll on the swimmers seems to be minimal.
“It’s been OK so far,” Williamson said. “We just take each meet and look at it as itself and try to do our best at that meet and not worry about what we have already won or what we have coming up.”
The Virginia teams will need another strong performance in their upcoming face-offs against NC State. Led by third year and reigning ACC Men’s Coach of the Year Braden Holloway, the Wolfpack have flown under the radar but are rising to the level of the conference’s top swim and dive programs.
Freshman Andreas Schiellerup has led the charge for the NC State men’s team this season. His 46:61 100-yard backstroke is the fastest time in the ACC this season and 7th fastest in the country. In his other principal event, the 50-yard freestyle, Schiellerup’s 19.69 is good for second fastest in the ACC this season and just 0.05 seconds off the fastest time in the conference. In addition, senior Jonathan Boffa is a two-time recipient of ACC Male Swimmer of the Week this season, predominantly for his times in the 100-yard freestyle events.
“They have great sprinters,” Busch said. “I know Braden [Holloway]. That’s how he recruits. He recruits relays first. It will be tough. It’s going to be really hard to beat them on the men’s side.”
Busch said despite the excitement carrying over from last week’s meet, he aims to keep the team focused on the upcoming matchup.
“NC State, they know our times from last weekend, and all that’s going to do is motivate them,” Busch said. “It’s a huge challenge coming off of such an emotional weekend and trying to get back to the normal daily practice grind and get ready for another bus trip and weekend.”