The Virginia Tech and Virginia relay squads took home titles on the first day of the 2013 ACC Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship on Wednesday. While Virginia took the early lead, the Hokies can take home some satisfaction that they won't need the new NCAA relay qualifying guidelines as they qualified their first relay since 2010. After the first day, the Cavaliers lead with 70 points, followed by Virginia Tech (66). Miami and NC State are tied for third with 64 points, while Georgia Tech (52), Duke (52), Boston College (44), Florida State (34) and North Carolina (26) round out the field.
In the first event of the Championships, the Tech quartet of Sabrina Benson, Alyssa Bodin, Heather Savage and Katarina Filova touched the wall just .15 second before the University of Miami with a time of 1:38.30 to claim the 200 medley relay title. Florida State finished second, just .01 seconds behind Virginia Tech, but was disqualified for an early takeoff on an exchange. Miami, NC State, and Virginia all finished within half of a second of the Hokies in a tight finish. The last time Tech qualified a relay team was in 2010 when Filova was a member of the 800 freestyle relay.
“To be called for a disqualification for a difference of one one-hundredth of a second after marking and NCAA A cut time, breaking a school record and taking second place was just heartbreaking,” FSU Coach Neil Harper said. “But those ladies handled adversity and showed that we could bounce back.”
Virginia closed out the night by winning its sixth straight 800 free relay title in 7:01.56 to set a new ACC conference record, breaking the old mark by almost 1.5 seconds. The Cavaliers and North Carolina were neck and neck before Ellen Williamson and anchor Lauren Perdue grabbed the lead and the title. Florida State and NC State finished in second and third place with new program records.
“Anytime you break a conference record, you need to be excited and use that momentum to push you forward,” UVa head coach Mark Bernardino said. “That said, there are some things we can do better. We need to get out of practice mode where you swim circles in your lane and need to swim straighter. When you swim left to right, you’re adding distance to your swim and we certainly had instances of that. We’ll talk about that tonight and try and make some corrections for the rest of the meet.”
The 800 free relay of juniors Rachel Naurath and Caroline Kenney, sophomore Ellen Williamson and senior Lauren Perdue broke the ACC and school record in a time of 7:01.56. UVa and UNC were neck and neck until Williamson’s final 50 yards when the Cavaliers pulled away. It broke UVa’s previous conference and school record of 7:03.00, set in 2011. This was the sixth consecutive year the Cavaliers have won the event.
“It was good to end the night with momentum,” Bernardino said. “I wasn’t overly pleased with our execution in the first relay and wasn’t as sharp as we needed to be. But we came back in that 800 free relay and it was real consistent swimming. Rachel gave us a really good leadoff leg, Caroline and Ellen put in very solid swims in the middle and we’re fortunate to have Lauren to put it away and secure victory.”