Virginia swimming and diving continued its season on the road in Raleigh, N.C. over the weekend in a matchup against both North Carolina and N.C. State. The No. 1 Cavalier women’s squad (4-1) picked up the win against the Tar Heels (3-2) 261-92 and the Wolfpack (4-1) 223-130. The No. 14 men’s team (1-4) split the series, beating North Carolina (3-2) 250-103, but falling to No. 4 N.C. State (5-0) 89-264.
The Virginia women’s team got off to a hot start Friday, and sophomore Gretchen Walsh continued what has been a perfect season for her. In the first event of the day, Walsh led the Cavaliers to a win in the 400-yard medley relay alongside junior Alex Walsh, senior Kate Douglass and junior Maxine Parker. Her 50.07 second time was the fastest time for the 100-yard backstroke in the NCAA this season. With Gretchen Walsh’s postseason future secure, she is unlikely to compete at the last invitational before conferences, ending the regular season a perfect 12-0.
In the 400-yard IM, Alex Walsh and senior Ella Nelson had some friendly competition. While Alex Walsh is the defending 400-yard IM NCAA champion, this was the first time this season that she had competed in the race. Nelson, on the other hand, is the race’s current leader. Both swimmers put up outstanding performances and finished within a second of each other — Nelson just ahead of Walsh. The two swimmers currently hold the top three times in all of college swimming this season.
Virginia also had a strong showing in the 500-yard freestyle with freshman Claire Tuggle placing first with a season-best time of 4:46.12 and senior Maddie Donohoe finishing second. Douglass dominated the 100-yard freestyle, finishing over a second before her opponents. The Cavaliers ultimately finished first in 13 of 17 races.
Senior Jennifer Bell was coming off a strong performance against Virginia Tech which earned her the title of ACC Women’s Diver of the Week. She followed up that showing with a second place finish in the 1-meter dive and a third place finish in the 3-meter dive.
The men’s team won two races over the two-day stretch. Their strongest performance came during the 200-yard IM. Virginia snagged the top three spots, with senior Sean Conway finishing first, followed by junior Noah Nichols and sophomore Tim Connery. Nichols also picked up the win in the 200-yard breaststroke — finishing three seconds faster than his teammate, and closest competitor, sophomore Max Iida.
For the second meet in a row, the men were without two of their most important swimmers, junior Matt King and sophomore Connor Boyle, due to personal matters and injury, respectively. Boyle’s timetable for a return ranges from a week to a month. With two of their strongest freestyle swimmers unavailable, the Cavaliers were three seconds slower than their season-best during the 200-yard freestyle relay.
Virginia has just one meet remaining in the regular season, The Cavalier Invitational. The event is scheduled to take place Feb. 3 to Feb. 5 in Charlottesville at the Aquatic & Fitness Center.