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Women’s swim and dive finishes sixth at NCAA Championships

The Cavaliers shine for the third best performance in program history

Sophomore Paige Madden finished second in the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships.
Sophomore Paige Madden finished second in the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships.

Virginia women’s swimming and diving placed sixth as a team this past weekend at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas. The Cavaliers sent 14 swimmers and one diver to compete over four days at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. 

Beginning each day at 10 a.m., the preliminary races kicked off with final races taking place at 6 p.m. Over the course of the meet, Virginia racked up 188 points and 16 All-American Honor swims. The team’s sixth place result behind winner Stanford and runner-up California is the third best in program history.

The national meet began Wednesday, March 20, with a ninth-place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay. The relay team of junior Morgan Hill, sophomore Paige Madden, redshirt junior Meghan Moroney and senior Eryn Eddy swam a time of 6:57.77 to earn All-America Honorable Mention honors.

Virginia returned to action the second day with an all-star performance from Madden in the 500-yard freestyle. Madden finished second in the event recording a time of 4:32.98, a little more than a five second personal record. Her time is third fastest in the nation this season and second in school history. 

Along with an eighth-place finish in the 400-yard medley relay, 12th overall in the 200-yard individual medley for sophomore Abby Richter and 13th overall in the 50-yard freestyle for Hill, Virginia concluded the day in 10th place with 66 points total.

Three athletes stepped up to score big-time points and earn All-America Honors. Freshman Alexis Wenger took center stage in the 100-yard breastroke and secured sixth place with a time of 58.64. 

Madden placed the highest, finishing fifth in the finals of the 200-yard freestyle. She swam a personal record of 1:43.03 to move into third all-time in program history. In the 100-yard butterfly, Hill navigated a stacked field to finish in seventh place with a school record time of 50.84.

With only one relay for the day, the 200-yard medley relay team notched eighth overall with a time of 1:36.16. The relay plus the individual events moved the Cavaliers into eighth place with 128 points heading into the final day of competition.

"The women had one of the best days of my coaching career today, really showing how far they've come," Coach Todd DeSorbo said. "Paige [Madden], Morgan [Hill] and Alexis [Wenger] all had huge improvements this year to land in their first ever [individual] championship finals at NCAAs. Our medley relay finished in the top eight compared to finishing 15th last year.”

The last day comprised of two individual events and one relay swim. Another freshman, Kaki Christensen, muscled up valuable points down the stretch with an eighth-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke. 

The veteran Moroney swam a time of 1:51.28 in the finals of the 200-yard breaststroke. Her personal record earned seventh place and second in school history. The 400-yard freestyle relay closed the meet out with the Cavaliers placing eighth in a time of 3:12.85. 

Both Moroney and Hill concluded action with thirteen total All-America awards. Their performance and consistency helped lift the program to a stellar sixth place finish as a team. 

While the women’s season comes to a close, the men’s swimming and diving team sends 12 swimmers back to Austin for round two of the NCAA Championships starting Wednesday.