​Swim and dive sweeps Penn State, women defeat Michigan

Cavaliers continue strong performances in pool


Junior Jennifer Marrkand and the Cavaliers look to measure themselves against the nation's best competition at the Georgia Fall Invitational. 

Paul Burke | Cavalier Daily

The Virginia swim and dive teams continued their seasons this past weekend against Big Ten foes Michigan and Penn State. The No. 6 women’s team (3-0, 1-0 ACC) swept the competition, defeating No. 1 Michigan (2-1, 1-0 Big Ten) and Penn State (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten) by scores of 196.5-156.5 and 266-87, respectively. The No. 25 Cavalier men (2-1, 1-0 ACC) found success against Penn State (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten), winning 236-115, but lost to Michigan (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) by a score of 203-140.

“I was very proud of our teams’ performances this weekend,” Virginia coach Augie Busch said. “We raced very well on both sides. Our men are experiencing some great momentum which is fun to see and our women also continue to do well.”

Busch has more than enough to be proud of. At the meet, senior Leah Smith captured the women’s 1,000 free with a time of 9:32.03, while senior Austin Quinn took the men’s 200 free in 1:37.48.

“I’m happy to see the way the team fought,” Busch said. “It was great to see the men have some mojo going. A lot of these guys have been through some tough times and to see them racing well was so gratifying. There were a lot of great swims this weekend. The majority of people had at least one lifetime and season best.”

After years of success in the ACC, the men’s team has not been performing as well as the standout women’s team for the past few seasons. But, performances like Quinn’s will only bolster Virginia’s chances of achieving greatness again. The team has also been getting strong support from the diving squad — freshman diver Bryce Shelton swept his events, winning both the one- and three-meter competitions.

“We train hard the whole week,” Shelton said. “We practice every dive so we can go into each meet confident in every event. Even though it’s a young group, the older kids have been very helpful. They’ve been helping the younger guys on how to train effectively. They are very encouraging in our effort to get the team to the highest level possible.”

Diving coach Jason Glorius, praised Shelton for his drive and poise this weekend.

“It was a great meet for our divers,” Glorius said. “I am very pleased with how we continue to focus on the process rather than the end result. Our scores are still very good for where we are in the season, so our focus is working. We just need to keep training hard and getting better every day in practice.”

As usual, the women’s team dominated in the pool, even when faced with the number one team in the nation — Michigan. While the lady Wolverines had a strong performance — including breaking the Aquatic & Fitness Center pool record in the 400 free relay — the Cavaliers had the perseverance to pull out the victory.

“We’ve been working on a lot of details,” senior Laura Simon said. “I think we’ve done a really good job of being consistent. As a team, we are at a spot at this point in the season that we haven’t been at in the past. Swimming Michigan and Penn State presented us with great opportunities to challenge ourselves. It’s really cool to have to work for every meter. This competitive meet helped us prepare not only for Georgia, but for NCAAs as well.”

The meet Marrkand referred to is the Georgia Fall Invitational held in Athens, Ga. Every year, the meet attracts some of the nation’s top swimmers and top teams. It typically presents a good barometer for teams with hopes of succeeding at the NCAAs towards the end of the season.

“We’re way better than we have been in the past years, especially on the men’s side,” Busch said. “Our relays are really showing that. We have some very solid times for this point in the season. Things are looking really good.”

The Virginia diving team will compete at the NC State/GAC Diving Invite in Greensboro, N.C. on Nov. 19. The full Cavalier swim and dive teams will be in action next at the Georgia Fall Invitational Dec. 2-4.

Correction: This article previously attributed quotes to Jennifer Marrkand, not Laura Simon.

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