After a lengthy break, the Virginia swimming and diving teams returned to action this past weekend against in-state rival Virginia Tech. The No. 13 men’s team (3-1, 2-0 ACC) won by a score of 199 to 154, while the No. 5 women’s team (4-0, 2-0 ACC) defeated their opponents 225 to 123.
“They’re our rivals, so it was great to bring that title back to Charlottesville,” senior Austin Quinn said. “We were coming off some great training, so we were a little rusty since we hadn’t seen any race action since the Georgia meet. To win by almost 50 points was great … we have a really young team and very fast team top to bottom. We win races individually, but meets as a team.”
At this point, the women’s team typically expects a win swimming against No. 23 Virginia Tech (4-3, 1-3 ACC). The men, though, haven’t had the same success against their in-state rival. Their victory over the weekend was the team’s first against the No. 25 men’s Hokies team (6-1, 3-1 ACC) since 2013.
“The men’s team has this chip on their shoulder, which is awesome,” Virginia coach Augie Busch said. “This year, it’s nice to see our guys racing with urgency. The challenge for the women will ramp up this weekend, and will be even tougher next week against NC State, which is one of the top programs in the country.”
This coming weekend, the Cavaliers face off against two ACC rivals Duke and North Carolina, and competition should pick up. Both sides feature strong swimmers in an extremely competitive league.
“January is all about back to back racing and dual meets,” Busch said. “So far we have one under our belt. It went well — not outstanding, but well. I was pleased that our men were able to get a victory over Tech for the first time in four years. We are hoping for the same thing against Duke and North Carolina this weekend.”
Heading into the meets, Virginia’s coach was confident in his teams’ abilities, noting their strategy doesn’t necessarily change for stiffer competition.
“Our goal is always to be the loudest and most supportive team on deck,” Busch said. “We try to put up the best relays we can, and are always going after our races and not sitting back. Taking an aggressive mindset and expecting all teams to be great is important for us to have our best performances and continue improving our times.”
The Duke men’s team (5-1, 0-1 ACC) and No. 22 women’s team (5-1, 1-1 ACC) both present considerable matchups. The men have claimed wins over West Virginia and Northwestern, while the women’s only loss came at the hands of NC State, one of the best programs in the entire nation.
The Cavaliers will face a North Carolina men’s team (1-3, 0-1 ACC) and women’s team (1-3, 0-1 ACC) Saturday with poor dual meet records. However, they had strong performances at the NC State/GAC Invitational, where the women placed second and the men placed fourth.
Regardless of their opponents’ record, the Cavaliers look at every race as preparation for both ACC finals and NCAA nationals.
“The post season is our goal the entire year,” senior Ellen Thomas said. “Everything that we do, from weights, to training in the pool, to cardio, to running, is always focused on the post season. Coach’s motto is ‘race tough,’ to remind us that every swim is important.”
Members of the men’s team have a similar mindset.
“Throughout the entire season, we have the post season in the back of our minds,” Quinn said. “Coach always tells us to focus on the training. When it comes to meets, that’s when you flip the switch. That way we are prepared for ACCs and nationals.”
Both Cavalier teams will look to improve their already impressive records this weekend.
The meet against Duke is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. in Durham N.C., while the meet against North Carolina is scheduled for Saturday at 12 p.m. in Chapel Hill, N.C.