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Women’s Swimming and Diving wins third straight NCAA Championship, sweeping competition and breaking records

The Cavaliers are only the fifth program in NCAA history to accomplish the three-peat

<p>The Cavaliers won six individual NCAA championships en route to securing their third straight national title.</p>

The Cavaliers won six individual NCAA championships en route to securing their third straight national title.

No. 1 Virginia’s Women’s swimming and diving  earned their third consecutive NCAA Championship title at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. Saturday. After a season full of victories and record-breaking swims, as well as winning the ACC Championship, the Virginia women lived up to expectations coming into the meet as heavy favorites. 

After the first day of the meet, Virginia led the competition with 80 points, followed by Texas with 64 points. In the 200-yard medley, Virginia beat its own American, NCAA and U.S. Open records, while delivering the second consecutive NCAA title in the event — the first repeat champion in this event since Virginia beat California’s record in 2012. This win also marked the second American, NCAA and US Open record in the 200-medley for Virginia in just over a month. 

Sophomore Gretchen Walsh kicked off the relay with a 22.77 split in the 50-yard backstroke, while juniors Alex Walsh and Lexi Cuomo swam the breaststroke and butterfly legs, respectively. Senior Kate Douglass anchored the relay to achieve the second fastest 50-yard split ever in just 20.34 seconds. The four swimmers completed the relay in just 1:31.51— a record time for the event. 

Virginia also won the 800 freestyle relay, pulling off both a University and pool record of 6:49.82. Starting off the relay and making her NCAA Championship debut was freshman Aimee Canny, followed by Alex Walsh and sophomore Reilly Tiltmann with senior Ella Nelson anchoring. This victory marked the second time in three years that Virginia has won this event. 

The second day of the meet came with the third relay title for Virginia and kept the Cavaliers in first place with 208.5 points, with Texas again following behind with 162 points. In the 200 freestyle relay, Douglass, Gretchen, Cuomo and junior Maxine Parker took first place with a meet record time of 1:24.51. 

With a time of 1:48.37, Douglass became the first woman ever to swim the 200 IM in under 1:50. She was just under two seconds ahead of the second-place winner, setting American, NCAA and U.S. Open records in the process. This is the fourth individual event Douglass has set an American record in at the NCAA Tournament.

On the third day of the championship, Virginia maintained their lead, leaving with 374.5 points, Texas again trailing with 272.5 points. Douglass won her sixth individual NCAA championship, winning the 100 butterfly for the second consecutive year and setting NCAA, American and U.S. Open records in the process. In one of the most exciting races of the championship, Douglass beat Louisiana State University’s Maggie MacNeil by just .05 seconds with a time of 48.46. This marked Douglass’s fifth-straight individual race that set an American record in the NCAAs. 

Gretchen Walsh also achieved the same three records in the 100 backstroke. She won her second career NCAA individual title, and stayed in first place throughout the entire race, with a time of 48.26. 

With a time of 3:57.24, Alex Walsh earned a two-peat in the 400 IM and a fifth individual NCAA title. Nelson placed second in the event, matching a career-best finish of 3:59.54. 

Gretchen, Alex, Douglass and Canny won a fourth relay for the Cavaliers, setting a pool record of 3:22.39 in the 400 medley relay. 

The fourth and final day of the NCAA Championship brought the Cavaliers their third consecutive NCAA Championship. They finished with a total of 541.5 points and 11 total wins, which they also achieved in the 2022 championships. Virginia became only the fourth program in NCAA history to win all five relay events. The Cavaliers also earned six individual NCAA Championships. Virginia stayed consistent throughout the four days, staying in first place throughout the entirety of the meet and decisively beating Texas by a total of 127 points.

Douglass earned three individual wins in the 200 IM, 100 butterfly and 200 breaststroke, achieving NCAA, American and U.S. Open record times in each event. Douglass closes out her NCAA career with seven individual championships. 

Gretchen won her second NCAA title in the 100 freestyle, maintaining a two-year title streak. She finished .8 seconds ahead, with a time of 45.61. Alex set the Virginia record in the 200 butterfly, finishing second with a time of 1:50.23. She also earned an NCAA title in the 400 IM. 

Douglass, Alex, Maxine Parker and Gretchen finished out the meet with American, NCAA and U.S. Open records in the 400 freestyle relay, with a time of 3:05.84. 

The Cavaliers close a historic season with three individual NCAA champions — Douglass, Gretchen and Alex — five relay championships, 11 top-eight finishes and five honorable mentions All-Americans winners. After winning their third straight NCAA championship, fourth straight ACC championship and breaking records along the way, the 2022-23 Cavaliers have certainly cemented their legacy as an elite program and a team to remember. 


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