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Lane burns up pool to win national title

In Mark Bernardino's 22-year tenure as Virginia swimming and diving coach, he has taken the Cavalier program to an unprecedented level of national prominence. The men's and women's squads have become fixtures in the national top 10, and last spring, Shamek Pietucha became the first Cav to win an NCAA men's title. Now Virginia has its first women's champion.

Freshman Cara Lane earned a decisive victory at the NCAA Championships Saturday in Indianapolis, dominating her competitors to win the 1,500-meter freestyle in 16:03.59.

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  • "It's the first national women's champion out of the ACC in a long, long time, so for our conference it's a major step," Bernardino said. "It's so incredible and difficult to be a national champion. It's the best of the best."

    The 10 Cavalier competitors earned 155 points, tying with Texas for ninth place overall. Virginia's only higher NCAA finish came in 1988, when it placed seventh. Last season, the Cavs finished 10th.

    In the 1,500 free, Lane outdistanced runner-up Trina Jackson of Arizona by 11 seconds. The Virginia rookie touched the wall less than 13 seconds off Kim Linehan's 17-year-old U.S. record.

    "I didn't really know what to expect," Lane said. "I was just going to go out and see what I could do. I just gave it my all and ended up with that time."

    Lane was not the only Cavalier churning up the water in Indianapolis. Freshman Mirjana Bosevska placed fourth in the 1,500 free, just two-hundredths of a second shy of third place. She also nailed down a fourth-place finish in the 400 individual medley.

    Virginia finished seventh in the 200 medley relay, as junior Megan Iffland, sophomore Kate Slonaker and seniors Kori Forster and Rebecca Cronk turned in a time of 1:52.69.

    As the Cav men prepare for the national championships Thursday in Minneapolis, Bernardino said Lane's accomplishment is an important landmark in Virginia swimming history.

    "Any time a program produces a national champion, that sends out a strong note to all athletes, whether they are currently in the program or whether they may think about being in the program in the future," Bernardino said.


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