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Virginia swimming and diving continues to dominate in tri-meet with NC State and North Carolina

The women defeated the competition to take the victory, while the men triumphed over North Carolina but fell to NC State

<p>The Cavaliers' performance this weekend proved their place as one the most highly-touted programs in the country</p>

The Cavaliers' performance this weekend proved their place as one the most highly-touted programs in the country

Virginia swimming and diving was back in action at the Aquatic & Fitness Center Friday and Saturday, kicking off its first meet of the calendar year in hugely impressive fashion. The Cavaliers set facility records, marked nation-leading times and — in the case of junior Gretchen Walsh — swam the fastest times in history over two events. From this team, it would be remiss to expect anything less. 

The No. 1 Virginia women defeated No. 8 NC State with 265.5 points to 87.5 points and No. 20 North Carolina 272.5 to 80.5, while the No. 18 Virginia men’s team split the meet, winning with 221 points to 131 against North Carolina but falling 109 to 244 to No. 4 NC State. 

Day one 

The two-day event kicked off with diving, where the Cavaliers put on a strong performance. Junior Elizabeth Kaye finished third in the women’s 3-meter event with a total score of 309 points, while senior Oliver Mills placed fourth in the men’s 1-meter event with 304.60 points. 

The swimming events began shortly afterwards, and the Cavalier women dominated from start to finish. That dominance began with the 400-yard medley relay, where the quartet of Walsh, graduate student Jasmine Nocentini, senior Alex Walsh and senior Maxine Parker swam a time of 3:28.03 to finish in first place. Gretchen Walsh set an AFC pool record with her 100-yard backstroke time of 48.77 as she swam the opening leg of the relay.

The men’s medley relay also set the tone for the strong performances ahead, as senior Matt Brownstead, senior Noah Nichols, freshman Hayden Bellotti and sophomore Sebastien Sergile took second place overall in a time of 3:09.58. 

Day one was full of event wins for the women. Virginia swept the women’s 500-yard freestyle, with freshman Cavan Gormsen coming in first with a time of 4:43.41 and sophomore Sophia Knapp finishing second in 4:46.87. Sophomore Aimee Canny won the women’s 200-yard breaststroke in a time of 2:10.75, and sophomore Emma Weber finished third in 2:11.40. 

In the 200-yard butterfly, senior Abby Harter swam to first place with 1:57.91, and freshman Maggie Schalow came third in 1:59.16. Gretchen Walsh led the way for the Cavaliers in the 50 yard freestyle, clocking 20.98 seconds for a first-place finish. Nocentini finished second in 21.85 and Parker fourth in 22.43. 

Freshman Tess Howley put on an impressive performance to finish first in the 200 yard backstroke in 1:53.47, while junior Reilly Tiltman came in third with 1:54.38. The Cavaliers continued to dominate in the 400-yard individual medley, with senior Alex Walsh touching the wall in first place in a nation-leading time of 4:00.52 and graduate student Ella Nelson coming in second in 4:04.24. 

The women wrapped up the day in a remarkable way, as the 200-yard freestyle relay saw Nocentini, Walsh, Parker and sophomore Carly Novelline set an AFC pool record with their mark of 1:26.47. Walsh blew away the collegiate swimming world as she swam the fastest 50 yard freestyle split in history with her time of 20.19 on her leg of the relay. 

The men also put down some impressive performances, as Nichols won the 200-yard breaststroke with 1:56.15 and junior Max Iida finished in third with 1:57.03. Brownstead took second place in the 50-yard freestyle in 19.41 seconds and freshman Will Thompson swam 1:46.13 to finish third in the 200-yard backstroke. 

Day two

The second day of competition opened with solid performances in the diving events. Kaye placed second in the women’s 1-meter event with 294.30 points and junior Nicholas Sanders took fourth in the men’s 3-meter with 313.15 points. 

After the diving events wrapped up, the second day of competition was highlighted by a touching Senior Day celebration. After that, it was back to racing for the Cavaliers. The women performed just as impressively as they did on day one, kicking off the afternoon with a sweep in the 200-yard medley relay. Alex Walsh, Skirboll, Gretchen Walsh and Canny swam to first place in 1:35.98, while Tiltmann, Nocentini, Novelline and Parker took second in 1:37.25. Gretchen Walsh impressed once again, swimming 21.50 seconds to record the fastest 50-yard butterfly split in history for her leg of the relay.

Gormsen once again topped the distance freestyle events, winning the 1000-yard freestyle in 9:44.83. Knapp and graduate Maddie Donohoe rounded out the top four, placing in third and joint fourth place respectively with times of 9:54.88 and 9:55.05. Virginia completed a sweep of the women’s 200-yard freestyle event next, with Canny in first with 1:45.61, followed by Alex Walsh in second in 1:47.01 and Nelson in third with 1:48.18.

The Cavalier women continued to impress in the sprint events, as Howley cruised to victory in the 100-yard backstroke in 52.76 seconds and Gretchen Walsh took first place in the 100-yard freestyle in an AFC pool record time of 46.40 seconds. The 100-yard breaststroke was also a sweep for the women, as Nocentini took the victory with 59.05 seconds, Weber came in second with 59.93, and Skirboll third with 1:01. 

Virginia repeated this dominance in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley events, also sweeping both with a 1-2-3 run. The 100-yard butterfly saw Alex Walsh in first with 52.25 seconds, Howley in second with 52.91 seconds and Novelline in third with 53.07 seconds. In the 200-yard individual medley, Nelson emerged victorious with a time of 1:59.06, while Bathurst came in second in 2:01.17 and Harter was third with 2:01.19.

The women capped off a successful day with a win in the 400-yard medley relay, where the quartet of Parker, Nocentini, Gretchen Walsh and Alex Walsh swam a time of 3:28.03.

The men also had a strong showing on day two, as a team of Brownstead, Nichols, junior Tim Connery and graduate student August Lamb powered to a second place finish in the 200-yard medley relay in 1:25.27.

Sergile finished second in the 200-yard freestyle with 1:35.89, and senior Will Cole swam a strong race to finish third in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 47.72. Brownstead finished second in the 100-yard freestyle in 42.93, and Nichols and Iida finished first and second in the 100-yard breaststroke in 52.38 seconds and 54.13 seconds, respectively. Sergile wrapped up the day with a first place finish in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:46.76. 

All in all, this weekend’s slate of performances from both Virginia’s men and women should strike a lot of confidence in Cavaliers fans. The Virginia women look primed to chase their fourth consecutive National Championship, and the men aren’t too far behind. 


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