Virginia swimmers visit Duke, UNC
Men aim to rebound from VT loss; Virginia's Smith, UNC's Peacock prepare to clash
The Virginia swimming and diving teams continue their seasons on the road this weekend against ACC opponents Duke and North Carolina.
The Cavaliers were impressive last weekend in Christiansburg, Va., capturing five of the six dual-meets. The No. 7 Virginia women’s team improved to 7-1 with wins against Miami, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin, while the No. 18 Virginia men’s team defeated No. 24 Harvard and Wisconsin but lost to Virginia Tech, bringing their record to 4-3 on the season.
“We unfortunately lost [to Virginia Tech], and we know that it was the first time in a while since they had beaten us,” junior David Ingraham said. “It certainly was a wake up call to lose to them. But I think we saw more positives in that meet than negatives.”
The Cavaliers will travel to both Duke and North Carolina to compete this weekend, and although it is unusual to swim at two different pools during one road trip, coach Augie Busch is not worried about any issues of fatigue.
“It’s going to be a pretty easy trip up and back in both directions,” Busch said.
This is also the first time in recent memory that the men’s and women’s teams will combine for a united score in the North Carolina meet.
“It’s always been separate meets, the male and the female,” Busch said. “That will make it easier logistically too.”
The Cavaliers battle Duke first, a team that was not impressive in its last away meet two weekends ago against South Carolina. In Columbia, the Blue Devils lost both the men’s and women’s competitions.
“They have gotten a lot better over the past few years, but they serve as kind of a nice mental prep and rehearsal for the big day on Saturday,” Ingraham said.
That “big day on Saturday” is in Chapel Hill against North Carolina, historically Virginia’s fiercest swimming rival. Virginia’s men’s and women’s teams have each claimed the last six ACC championships, with the men claiming a staggering 14 of the last 15 — but since the ACC Championship meet began, North Carolina men and women have combined to finish in the top three 59 out of 60 times.
“It goes without being said, but this is a legendary rivalry,” Ingraham said. “We lacked passion when we swam in Christiansburg last week, but that will not be lacking this weekend … because we’re cognizant of it and … because it’s North Carolina, and the passion is always there. We’ll be riled up and hopefully revenge the loss to them two years ago in Chapel Hill.”
The Tar Heels swept their last matchup two weeks ago against Navy. The No. 9 North Carolina women (7-1) won all 16 of their events, while the No.14 North Carolina men (4-2) had the top times or scores in 12 of their 16 events.
The most intriguing match of this weekend will be between Virginia freshman Leah Smith and North Carolina senior Stephanie Peacock in the distance freestyle events.
Smith, who specializes in the distance freestyle, was named ACC Female Swimmer of the Week after her performance last week. She won three individual events – the 1,650-yard, 200-yard and the 500-yard freestyle – and swam the first leg of Virginia’s victorious 800 freestyle relay.
Peacock continues to show that she is one of the best distance freestylers in the nation. In North Carolina’s last meet against Navy, she won both the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle. Both swimmers’ times are neck and neck in the 500 free, with Smith having posted a mark 0.11 seconds faster.
“They have the best distance swimmer in the country on their women’s team [in] Stephanie Peacock,” Busch said. “So with Leah, who knows? That will be a great challenge.”
On the diving side of the pool, junior JB Kolod will lead Virginia against Duke senior Nick McCrory and North Carolina freshman Jack Nyquist. Kolod won the 3-meter diving event and placed second in the 1-meter diving event at Virginia Tech. Both McCrory and Nyquist swept their respective diving events in their last competition.
The Cavaliers start competition against the Blue Devils 5 p.m. Friday and will compete against the Tar Heels 12 p.m. Saturday.