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Previewing Virginia Swimming and Diving at the NCAA Championships

A total of 27 Cavalier swimmers and divers will look to capture team and individual titles

<p>The Cavaliers will look to build on an impressive showing in the ACC Championships.</p>

The Cavaliers will look to build on an impressive showing in the ACC Championships.

Following a run at the ACC Swimming and Diving championship that led to four American records and a conference championship victory for the women’s swim team, Virginia’s swimming and diving teams now look ahead to the NCAA championships — which are taking place between Wednesday and Saturday — to compete at the highest collegiate level. With Coach Todd DeSorbo at the helm, the sky is the limit for the Cavaliers, especially the women who are looking to become back-to-back NCAA Champions after capturing their first national team title a year prior. 

Women’s Championship

Fourteen members of Virginia’s women’s swim team qualified for the NCAA championship coming off their historic performance at the ACC championship. Only Tennessee and Louisville qualified more swimmers, and the Cavaliers sit comfortably tied for third in qualifiers, alongside Georgia, NC State and Stanford. 

The full list of Virginia qualifiers includes freshman Ella Bathurst, junior Lexi Cuomo, junior Maddie Donohoe, junior Kate Douglass, sophomore Abby Harter, sophomore Anna Keating, senior Jessica Nava, junior Ella Nelson, freshman Reilly Tiltmann, sophomore Alex Walsh, freshman Gretchen Walsh, senior Alexis Wenger, freshman Emma Weyant and sophomore Sophia Wilson. 

The Cavaliers also qualified 14 swimmers a year ago when they took home the national title, and this year’s group features the experience, depth and talent to repeat as champions. The College Swimming Coaches Association of America has them ranked in the top spot for good reason. Dominant in both relays and individual races all year, it is truly Virginia’s title to lose.

For women’s diving, Virginia will send freshman Lizzy Kaye, junior Jennifer Bell and junior Charlotte Bowen to compete, after strong qualifying showings at the NCAA Zone A Championships a week earlier.

Who to Watch

The Walsh Sisters

Both Gretchen and Alex Walsh are coming off blazing hot performances at the ACC championship, in which Alex captured the ACC’s Most Valuable Swimmer award, and both sisters contributed to record-breaking relays. Particularly keep an eye out for Gretchen’s role in the 200-yard medley relay, as she clocked a 22.82 second 50-yard backstroke en route to the ACC title. Alex’s individual ACC titles included the 200 IM, 200 freestyle and 200 breaststroke – and she is sure to impress again on an even bigger stage.

Kate Douglass

Douglass played an integral role in Virginia’s triumph at the 2021 NCAA Championships, and after sweeping her ACC individual events, she is set to once again make history in pursuit of a repeat. The Tokyo Olympic Bronze medalist has demonstrated that she is capable of competing among the best of the world in the 200 IM. She is nearly a lock to capture this title for the second-straight year as well as many others.

Lizzy Kaye

Keep an eye out for Kaye, who has shown remarkable potential in her freshman campaign. In the NCAA Zone A Championships, Kaye placed second overall in the three meter, scoring a personal best 323.1 in the final round. She’ll also perform in the platform, with a chance to make a name for herself on a national level.

Men’s Championships

Often overlooked on account of their sister program’s dominance, there’s a lot to like about Virginia’s men’s swim program heading into the NCAA Championships. A total of nine swimmers qualified to compete at the meet, including freshman Jack Aikins, freshman Connor Boyle, sophomore Matthew Brownstead, junior Josh Fong, senior Justin Grender, sophomore Matt King, junior August Lamb, sophomore Noah Nichols and senior Casey Storch. 

After finishing ninth overall a year prior, CSCAA has the Cavaliers ranked No. 17 in their most recent poll. While a surprise run at a title is somewhat unlikely, Virginia fans should be keen to see how they fare compared to conference rivals such as Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers finished just 13 points behind the Hokies in third and fourth place respectively at the ACC Championships. 

A lone Virginia diver advanced to the championships in senior Walker Creedon after a phenomenal showing in the NCAA Zone A Championships.

Who to Watch

Jack Aikens

Cavalier fans should be excited to see how the freshman performs at the championships as he already holds the record for the fastest 200 backstroke time in Virginia history at 1:39.53. He’s demonstrated promise in relays and individual events throughout the season, and how he performs should give Virginia a good look at the future of the program.

200-yard freestyle relay team

At the ACC championship, the 200-yard freestyle relay team— comprised of King, Boyle and Lamb— set an American record for the event in 1:14.47. The NCAA Championships is an excellent opportunity to break this record further than the razor-thin 0.03 second margin they currently lay claim to. 

Walker Creedon

The senior and two-time NCAA Zone A platform champion is riding the momentum of his most recent victory into the NCAA Championships. His 394.40 score in this year’s Zone A finals is the second-best in Virginia history, and he will have an opportunity to improve upon it further at the championship.

The 2022 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships will be held Wednesday through Saturday at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, while the men’s will be held March 23-26 at the McAuley Aquatic Center, also in Atlanta. Coverage will be provided on ESPN3 for both events, with ESPN set to air two-hour showings of the meets Wednesday at 7 p.m., March 30 at 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. April 5, respectively.


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