Virginia teams win 20 events, impress at Cavalier Invitational
Seniors Petersen, Crawford victorious in final collegiate competition
The Virginia swimming and diving teams ended a largely successful regular season Saturday night with an emotional meet that brought out the best in the team — even those who didn’t compete.
The No. 7 Virginia women’s team placed first against James Madison, Pennsylvania, William & Mary and Duke, while the No. 22 men’s team placed second behind Pennsylvania, but ahead of William & Mary, Duke and Drexel.
While Virginia was certainly excited with the results that showed up on paper, this meet was not just about dominating the competition. Rather, the Cavalier Invitational served as the final regular season meet for swimmers not competing in the upcoming ACC Championships.
The swimmers who will compete in ACC Championships did not swim, as most continued their taper, but they still took to the pool deck and cheered their teammates on with energy and passion — something that touched coach Augie Busch.
“I’m not sure I’ve been prouder of this team yet this whole year,” Busch said. “The people resting and shaving for this meet are not going further than this meet because they didn’t make the conference team, so to watch our conference athletes come out and be so energized into their races gave me a real great feeling about what kind of people they are and what type of team we have.”
The loudest cheers from the crowd came when the fourth-year swimmers swam their final laps at the collegiate level. Among the seniors were Hillary Petersen, who was victorious in the 500-yard freestyle and 400-yard individual medley, and Fred Crawford, who won the 100-yard freestyle. The fans and teammates made their last meet even more special.
“It was almost a little distracting, because I had never been in an environment where I had been cheered for so loudly and with so much emotion,” Crawford said. “I was almost like, ‘What am I focusing on?’ It just shows our family and how committed we are to each other. I wouldn’t change any aspect of this meet at all because it was a great way to go out and I think a lot of the other fourth-years would agree, especially since a lot of us went out with best times, which was fantastic.”
The Cavaliers won 20 events during the two days of competition, boasting their depth with 14 different swimmers winning events and six Cavaliers winning multiple races.
Two men’s swimmers won multiple events: freshman Zack Bunner, who won the 200-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke, and sophomore Greg Stoffa, who won the 500-yard freestyle and the 1,650-yard freestyle.
For the women, freshmen Audrey Gould (100 and 200-yard breastroke) and Shannon Rauth (50 and 100-yard freestyle), junior Emily Dicus (100 and 200-yard backstroke), and Petersen claimed first in multiple events.
“This was just so exciting because it’s the time when we’re resting and the people who swam at the Cav Invite are a precursor to our championship meet,” Crawford said. “I think most of our swimmers did either their best time or right on their best. That’s exciting for the next two weekends for both the men’s and women’s ACC [Championships]. I think a lot of people doubted us this year with the new coaching change and I think we’re going to shock a lot of people — and I can’t wait to see their faces.”
Virginia is peaking at the right time, as the next several weekends will be occupied by the ACC and NCAA Championships. Despite both Virginia teams’ strong seasons, many Cavalier swimmers struggled with physical endurance throughout the season due to the intensified training regimen established by Busch.
“A lot of this is because we botched the rest in the fall,” Busch said. “We didn’t give them a chance to really get on top of the water and I did some things that I wouldn’t have normally done. It cost them a chance of being really sharp. We didn’t make that same mistake this semester, and the ACC and NCAA people are on the same track to get the rest they need.”
This schedule of strategic training and resting has the Cavaliers posting their fastest times of the season when it matters most, as demonstrated not only by the results this past weekend but also from the previous weekend’s meet against Pitt. Freshmen Leah Smith and Laura Simon posted record-breaking times in their respective events against the Panthers. These new successes have given even more confidence to an already dangerous team.
“We’ve never really been an amazing, outstanding in-season team,” Crawford said. “We’re always a lot better when we’re rested. We lost I think two dual meets by less than 10 points. Those are the kinds of things where you miss it by a finish or you die a little bit, and come the next two weeks, we’re not going to lose by dying. It’s going to be all heart, and I think this team definitely has it. It’s going to be exciting.”