Virginia swimming and diving (1-0) opened its season over the weekend with a dual meet against Florida in a battle of two powerhouses within the sport. The No. 1 women’s team defeated the No. 11 Gators (2-1) 180-115, while the No. 9 men’s team fell to the No. 3 ranked Florida squad 189-111.
Although the diving meet started Friday evening, the swimming events were all held Saturday. The defending national championship women’s swimmers got off to a hot start, claiming the top three spots in the first swimming event of the weekend, the 200-yard medley relay.
Junior Alex Walsh continued the winning ways for the Cavaliers with a victory in the 200-yard freestyle. The event would be one of two first-place individual finishes for Walsh on the day, who also helped Virginia win the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay in a pool-record time.
Three other Cavaliers would earn two victories apiece on Saturday. Senior Kate Douglass took first in both the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke, while sophomore Gretchen Walsh won the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly and in the 100-yard relay. Finally, sophomore Reilly Tiltmann placed first in both the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events.
Multiple newcomers to the team also performed well in their first collegiate events. Freshman Claire Tuggle placed first in the 500-yard freestyle, while freshman Zoe Skirboll and freshman Carly Novelline were each members of the Cavalier 200-yard medley relay team that won the event.
Virginia women’s swimming and diving ultimately won 11 of the 16 events in the dual meet, defeating a quality opponent in the Gators and starting off its national championship defense in a strong manner.
The men’s swimming and diving team were unable to pull off a victory like its female counterparts, but there were still bright spots over the weekend for the Cavaliers (0-1). Junior Noah Nichols started off the event wins for the team Saturday, placing first in the 100-yard breaststroke. Nichols would end up sweeping the events in that discipline, also winning the 200-yard breaststroke competition later in the day.
Junior Matt King and sophomore Jack Aikins also picked up victories for Virginia in the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke, respectively. The men’s side won just four out of the 16 events on the day, but the Gators (1-0) are one of the top teams in the country, so the meet was always going to be a challenge to come out victorious.
Tough competition awaits the Cavaliers in their next meet, as the teams travel to take on the No. 2 men’s and No. 3 women’s Longhorn teams. The event is set to take place Nov. 4-5 in Austin, Texas.