The Virginia men’s swimming and diving team concluded ACC Championships Saturday in third place with 1,018 points, behind second place Louisville and first place N.C. State. Coming in seeded and placed seventh based on the diving team’s conference results a week earlier, the Cavaliers put together multiple record-setting days and a total of 14 All-ACC honors to secure a podium finish. The standout performance came from senior Brendan Casey, finishing the meet with a total of 92 points and in a three-way tie for top point scorer.
The four-day competition kicked off last Wednesday at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, N.C. with relay races. The Cavaliers opened with strong performances in both the 200 medley relay and the 800-yard freestyle relay. Despite finishing seventh in the medley relay, the finishing time of 1:25.19 ranks third in school history. Virginia ended with the freestyle relay and finished in second place with 6:16.00. The performance ranks second in Virginia history and fifth in the nation.
Beginning the day in sixth place, the Cavaliers moved up one position with an elite finish in the 500-yard freestyle. Casey opened with his first race in the 500-yard freestyle, earning second place with a time of 4:12.63 that moves him up to second in school history in the event. In the 200-yard individual medley preliminaries, junior Ted Schubert and senior Bryce Keblish recorded the two fastest times in program history. However, in the finals, Schubert, Keblish and senior Zach Fong finished in the last three positions.
On the most crucial day of the competition, the Cavaliers strung together several podium finishes and record-setting performances to advance into third position overall. Casey stole the show for the second day in a row with a win in the 400-yard individual medley, the first individual title since 2014 for the Cavalier men. His time of 3:39.93 places him second in program history and in the nation.
"Another record setting day for our men, including our staff's first ACC champion," Coach Todd DeSorbo said. "It was a special moment for our program as it's been five years since a [male] Wahoo has stood on the top of the podium. It's the first of many to come and we are excited about the future.”
Individually, junior Joe Clark and sophomore Keefer Barnum both grabbed podium finishes in their respective events. Clark secured third place in the 100-yard backstroke, beating his own school record with a time of 45.22. In the 100-yard breaststroke, Barnum also finished third with a time of 52.64. Keblish also had a significant performance, breaking the school record in 100-yard butterfly and finishing fifth in the event with a time of 45.51.
The Cavaliers also took home third place in the 400-yard medley relay to wrap up a strong day, setting a school record time of 3:05.14.
Needing a steady stream of podium finishes to maintain third position, the Cavaliers delivered. For the third day in a row, Casey earned the performance of the day with his second win of the meet in the mile swim. He recorded a time of 14:37.50, which ranks second in school history and fourth in the nation. Clark earned his second podium finish of the meet with a bronze medal in the 200-yard backstroke, recording a time of 1:40.68.
The Cavaliers came up with other strong, point-scoring performances in the 200-yard breastroke, 200-yard butterfly and the 100-yard freestyle.
"I'm proud of how the guys fought today and throughout the meet," DeSorbo said. “The way the team finished third is indicative of our improvement over last year, scoring over 100 points more, narrowing the gap between ourselves and NC State and Louisville, and separating [us] from the rest of the conference."
The great team performance also gained a point for the Cavaliers in the Commonwealth Clash by beating in-state rival Virginia Tech.
Men’s diving is first to compete at NCAA Championships starting March 11 in Annapolis, Md., while men’s swimming recovers and prepares for the national meet one month from now beginning March 27 in Austin, Texas.