Virginia claims fourth consecutive Women’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship

Virginia Women's Swim and Dive team celebrates fourth consecutive NCAA championship (Credit: Jamie Holt/UVA Athletics) (Credit: Jamie Holt/UVA Athletics)

ATHENS, Ga. – For the fourth consecutive season, the top-ranked Virginia women’s swimming and diving team won the NCAA Championship. The Cavaliers scored 527.5 points to finish well ahead of second-place Texas (441 points) at the Jack Bauerle Pool at the Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Georgia.

Virginia becomes just the third program to win four consecutive NCAA team titles in the sport and the first since 1996. Stanford won five straight team championships from 1992 to 1996. Texas is the only other program to claim four or more consecutive titles after winning the championships in five consecutive seasons from 1984 to 1988.

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The title was the 34th NCAA Championship won by a Cavalier athletics program. The women’s swimming and diving program becomes the second UVA program to win four consecutive NCAA titles, matching the men’s soccer team’s run of national championships from 1991 to 1994.

Virginia won seven individual events and four of the five relays. This marked the third consecutive year UVA has won a total of 11 titles at the championship.

On the final night of the competition, UVA’s Gretchen Walsh won her sixth and seventh NCAA titles at the event, taking first in the 100 Free with a NCAA record time of 44.83 and later picking up gold in the 400 free relay. Virginia’s Jasmine Nocentini placed fourth in the 100 free with a time of 47.00.

Alex Walsh took first place in the 200 breaststroke with a personal best time of 2:02.07, the fourth fastest time ever. It was her third individual title after she had won gold in the 200 IM and 400 IM races earlier in the week. Ella Nelson was third in the event (2:04.80), while Anna Keating placed eighth (2:07.32). UVA won its fourth relay of the championship and its third straight NCAA 400 free relay title with a time of 3:05.89, just shy of its record mark of 3:05.84 for the event. The relay team included Nocentini, Alex Walsh, Gretchen Walsh and Maxine Parker.

In the 200 fly, Tess Howley placed fourth (1:52.41) and Abby Harter was sixth (1:52.49) to provide the Cavaliers with enough points to clinch the title prior to the evening’s final swimming event.

A total of five Cavaliers brought home gold medals topped by seven by Gretchen Walsh, six by Alex Walsh, five by Nocentini, four by Parker and one by Carly Novelline.

From Head Coach Todd DeSorbo

“I’m not sure I can put it into words. It’s really hard to digest even that we won. I told the girls before the session tonight that there are only nine teams, I think, that have ever won one national championship, and we are one of nine. And when you have 70 teams at a national championship, you know, that’s pretty impressive in and of itself. So it’s just wild. I really can’t put words to it. I’m just really proud of them and happy for them. And this one was a lot of fun.”

“We knew we had to be good today, like really good, maybe great. I think it was after the breaststroke this morning, when I was really like okay, we’re good. And then the 200 butterfly. Abby Harder and Tess Howley, when they went top eight, I literally cried. I cried after the 200 breast and the 200 fly. It was just an amazing feeling to have them step up in a really pressure situation. We haven’t been in that situation before. After Friday night, usually we felt pretty good about things. They just came out and really just set the tone this morning right away and put us into a really good position.”

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