No. 8 women’s swimming and diving defeats NC State, North Carolina, No. 23 men split

Cavaliers invite back alumni, honor nine seniors in final meet of regular season


Junior Diver Kylie Towbin had a big weekend in Virginia's victories, winning both her events and setting a school record in the three-meter dive against NC State. 

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

The No. 8 Virginia women’s swimming and diving team (10-0) defeated No. 15 NC State (3-4) 178-117 Friday and No. 21 North Carolina (4-3) 196-104 Saturday. The No. 23 Cavalier men’s swimming and diving team (6-4) lost 193-100 to No. 6 NC State but defeated North Carolina  (3-4) 192.5-101.5.

The women’s team finished the regular season undefeated in dual meets heading into next month’s ACC Championships and the NCAA Championships in March.

“The women had a goal at the beginning of the year that they wanted to win every single dual meet and we were able to accomplish that,” Virginia Coach Todd DeSorbo said. “In the end, it was not necessarily about dual meets … The real goal is results in February and March.”

Virginia junior diver Kylie Towbin won the women’s three-meter diving events against both NC State and North Carolina, setting a school record with a score of 355.05 against the latter. In addition, Towbin also finished second in the women’s one-meter dive against NC State, and her sophomore teammate Sydney Dusel won the event with a score of 293.70.

“All of our divers did some good things today, but Kylie [Towbin] and Sydney [Dusel] probably stood out among the best,” Virginia head diving Coach Jason Glorius said. “We’re actually training harder than we were at the beginning of the season, so as soon as we get a little bit of rest, our diving should improve even more.”

Senior Caitlin Cooper won the women’s 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle against NC State and set a pool record in the 50-yard freestyle against North Carolina with a time of 22.13. 

Against NC State, senior Jenn Marrkand won the women’s 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:59.25 and set a pool record in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:54.43.

“We are really proud of our women,” DeSorbo said. “They swam really well, Jenn Marrkand again leading the way.” 

Virginia won both the women’s and men’s 200-yard breaststroke against NC State, with sophomore Mary Claire Tansill taking first place for the women and freshman Matthew Otto doing the same for the men. 

“NC State is arguably one of the best programs in the country on the men’s side,” DeSorbo said. “That is where our men are heading. We look forward to getting to that level and challenging them really soon.”

Otto won the 200-yard breaststroke again against North Carolina, while fellow freshman Sam Schilling won the men’s 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:38.36. Juniors Brendan Casey and Zach Fong each won two events for the Cavaliers Saturday. Casey took first in the men’s 1000-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke, while Fong won the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley.

The Cavaliers welcomed over 100 alumni back to the Aquatic and Fitness Center for the weekend’s meets.

Beth Baker, who competed in butterfly for the Cavaliers from 1979-1983, helped to organize the alumni weekend. Her son, Ryan Baker, is a sophomore freestyle swimmer at Virginia.

“What’s especially heartwarming is that I never thought Ryan would choose U.Va. as his school,” Baker said. “It’s beyond thrilling for me because it’s drawn me back into this incredible family, which, because of this current coaching staff, has brought all the alumni from past years back.”

Baker has noticed a difference in alumni involvement this year under DeSorbo, who was hired after serving as associate head coach at NC State for six years. Many alumni are active in a Facebook group where they help the current coaching staff if necessary.

“The excitement and enthusiasm going on around the team right now is reminding us of the Bernardino days,” Baker said. 

Mark Bernardino was the head coach at Virginia for 35 years, from 1978 to 2013.

Lauren Perdue, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay and Virginia swim alumna, also attended with fellow members of the class of 2013, Meredith Cavalier and Kelly Grant. Perdue’s brother Philip is a senior freestyle swimmer for North Carolina. 

“Right now, I’m cheering for not only my alma mater, but also my brother,” Perdue said. “So I kind of have torn allegiances.”

In addition, Virginia honored nine seniors prior to Saturday’s meet against North Carolina — the final home meet of their collegiate careers. Cooper, Luke Georgiadis, Jessie Gvozdas, Corey Johnson, Marrkand, Laine Reed, Dina Rommel, Omer Tara and Cece Williams were all recognized.

The Cavaliers will next compete at the ACC Championships in Greensboro, N.C. The women’s meet will take place from Feb. 14-17, while the men’s meet will run from Feb. 21-24. 

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