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Virginia swimming and diving wins its fourth straight ACC Championship

The Cavaliers picked up four American records on the way to winning yet another conference championship

<p>Coach Todd DeSorbo continued his reign of dominance over the ACC, now turning his sights to the NCAA Championships in pursuit of a three-peat.</p>

Coach Todd DeSorbo continued his reign of dominance over the ACC, now turning his sights to the NCAA Championships in pursuit of a three-peat.

No. 1 Virginia women’s swimming and diving won their fourth straight ACC championship Saturday night at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, N.C. with 1,536 total points— the most ever in an ACC championship. The Cavaliers won 14 of 18 swimming events and finished ahead of No. 4 N.C. State and No. 11 Louisville to pick up their 19th championship overall. The No. 15 men’s swimming and diving finished in fourth with 946 points, behind No. 4 N.C. State, No. 12 Virginia Tech and No. 14 Lousivlle.  

The women started the meet on fire, racking up two conference championships Tuesday. In the 200-yard medley relay, sophomore Gretchen Walsh,  junior Alex Walsh, senior Kate Douglass and senior Lexi Coumo set an American record. Their time of 1:31.73 broke the record the Cavaliers previously set at the 2022 ACC Championships. 

The women picked up their second championship of the day in the 800-yard freestyle. Sophomore Reilly Tiltmann, freshman Aimee Canny, freshman Claire Tuggle and senior Ella Nelson edged out Louisville’s squad to finish with a time of 6:55.25. Their win in this event marked the 16th straight championship for Virginia. 

The men found the podium Tuesday as well, finishing second to N.C. State in the 200-yard medley relay. Junior Matt Brownstead, junior Noah Nichols, senior Max Edwards and senior August Lamb finished with a time of 1:23.03

The Cavaliers resumed their success on the second day and continued to break records. Gretchen Walsh picked up the first individual championship for Virginia in the 50-yard freestyle. Her time of 20.23 edged out the American record set by her teammate Douglass at last year’s championships. 

The Cavaliers broke another American record in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Douglas, Cuomo and the Walsh sisters beat out Louisville with a time of 1:23.87

In the closest race of the championships, Nelson tied for first in the 500-yard freestyle. Along with Georgia Tech freshman Deniz Ertan, Nelson finished with a time of 4:38.04, making her the sixth-fastest swimmer in the event in Virginia history. Senior Maddie Donohoe took third place in the race, earning her all-ACC honors. 

Douglass started what would be an incredible individual performance with a win in the 200-yard individual medley. Although barely missing the American record, she finished with a personal best and meet record time of 1:50.15. Junior Abby Harter also put up a career-best performance, finishing third with a time of 1:54.83. 

Senior Jenn Bell also put the Cavaliers on the podium in the 1-meter diving event. Her score of 301.40 put her just behind North Carolina junior Aranza Vazquez and Miami junior Mia Vallee. 

The men picked up silver in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Sophomore Jack Aikins, sophomore Tim Connery, Brownstead and Lamb’s time of 1:15.89 finished just behind N.C. State. Connery was also able to set a Virginia school record in the 200-yard IM with a time of 1:42.64 in prelims. 

The Cavaliers’ domination continued Thursday as both the women and men broke records. Nelson won her second title of the meet in the 400-yard IM medley with a time of 3:59.33. This marked the third consecutive championship for her in the event. 

Douglass edged out her teammate Gretchen Walsh in the 100-yard butterfly to set yet another American record with a time of 48.84. Another duo, Alex Walsh and Canny, finished first and second in the 200–yard freestyle. Walsh’s time of 1:41.63 broke Virginia’s record for the race. 

Although he finished fifth in the race, Connery set a Cavalier record in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 45.21.

The fourth day, Alex Walsh won the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 57.64 to pick up her first championship in the event. Walsh was a part of another group that broke a U.S. Open and NCAA record in the 400-yard medley relay. Walsh, alongside Douglass, Canny and her sister Gretchen finished with a time of 3:21.80. 

Nichols picked up the first ACC championship for the men in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 50.25. This time both broke the ACC and meet record. Brownstead swam a personal best time of 45.35 in the 100-yard backstroke, which was the second-best time ever for Virginia. The men also set a Cavalier record in the 400-yard medley relay which placed them second behind N.C. State. 

The final day of the meet, the women continued their historic championship performance with several more victories. Douglass picked up her third individual championship in the 100-yard freestyle and set a meet and ACC record in the process with her time of 45.86. Once again, her teammate Gretchen Walsh was not far behind, finishing in second. 

Alex Walsh also finished with three individual championships, her last coming in the 200-yard breaststroke where she set a pool record time of 2:03.68. She was also a part of an American record-setting relay which also included Douglass, Cuomo, and her sister Gretchen. In the 400-yard freestyle, this group broke the American record with a time of 3:06.83. For the men, Nichols broke the Virginia record in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:51.97.

With her three individual championships, four relay championships and three American records, Douglass won the ACC Women’s Most Valuable Swimmer. 

The Cavalier divers will compete in the NCAA Zone diving competition March 6-8. 

The women’s team performed as expected in a strong ACC pool, dominating the field in a historic fashion. The nature of their win should not be overlooked— as they coasted to event championships, frequently their only competition was the record they set a year prior. They will attempt to secure a three-peat at the NCAA Women’s Championships from March 15 to 18 in Knoxville, Tenn. While the men’s squad fell just short of a podium finish, its performance leaves room for optimism that Virginia has a chance at a strong placement at the NCAA Men’s Championships from March 22 to 25 in Minneapolis, Minn.

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