Feb. 14, 2017
ATLANTA – Senior Leah Smith (Pittsburgh, Pa.) won her fourth-straight title in the 500 free to lead the No. 8 Virginia women’s swimming and diving team on Tuesday (Feb. 14) at the ACC Championship held at Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
With four top-three finishes overall, Virginia jumped into second place in the team standings with 385.5 points. The Cavaliers trail NC State in first (452.5), and lead North Carolina (384) in third, Louisville (383) in fourth and Duke (315) in fifth.
“We are in an awesome fight with multiple teams, which is exactly where we thought we would be,” head coach Augie Busch said. “Our two best days are ahead and we are excited for more chances to compete. I am looking forward to seeing how the girls respond tomorrow morning.”
Opening the night with the 500 free, Smith took the lead early and never looked back. She cruised to a pool record time of 4:30.81, bettering her time from prelims to hold the second fastest swim in the country this year. Smith became the ninth individual in ACC history to win an event four times and only the second in a freestyle event.
Both Cavaliers advanced to the A final of the 500 free, as junior Cece Williams (Tallahassee, Fla.) placed eighth with a time of 4:48.80.
UVA followed that with a two-three-podium finish in the 200 IM. Senior Kaitlyn Jones (Newark, Del.) touched the wall in 1:54.93 to earn second and junior Jennifer Marrkand (Westford, Mass.) took third in 1:56.69.
Swimming in the B Final of the 200 IM after posting season-best times in prelims, sophomore Vivian Tafuto (Hummelstown, Pa.) came in 11th overall (1:59.48) and fellow sophomore Rachel Politi (Bexley, Ohio) finished 13th (2:00.07). Sophomore Sara Stranick (Charlotte, N.C.) was 23rd with a time of 2:00.59 in the C Final.
All four of UVA’s swimmers in the 50 free finals dropped seconds off their season best times in prelims heading into the finals. Junior Caitlin Cooper (Atlanta, Ga.) finished sixth, clocking in at 22.12. Cooper swam the second fastest time in school history with a 22.08 in prelims.
Senior Ellen Thomas (Guildford, United Kingdom) swam a 22.22 to place eighth in the A Final. Both Cooper and Thomas finished in NCAA Championship invite times. Senior Shannon Rauth (Glenmoore, Pa.) took 19th with a season-best swim of 22.68 and sophomore Eryn Eddy (Loveland, Colo.) was 23rd in 22.85.
Sophomore Kylie Towbin (New Canaan, Conn.) continued her strong diving performance, making the finals of the one-meter event. Towbin scored a 255.00 to place seventh overall.
UVA closed out the night with a third place finish in the 200 free relay. Cooper, Thomas, Eddy and freshman Morgan Hill (Olney, Md.) combined for a season-best time of 1:28.27, also the fourth-best time in school history.
In 200 IM prelims, senior Laura Simon (Simmern, Germany) clocked in at 2:03.47. Freshman Mary Tansill (Bristow, Va.) swan season-best time of 2:03.77 and fellow freshman Madeleine Vonderhaar (Lakeside Park, Ky.) finished in 2:04.31.
Hill touched the wall with a time of 22.88 in prelims of the 50 free.
Also on the one-meter, Sophomore Kirsten Parkinson (Stamford, Conn.) finished 17th with a 251.60 and freshman Sydney Dusel (Naperville, Ill.) was 22nd with a 245.05 to both score for the Cavaliers. Junior Cory Johnson (Ambler, Pa.) was 33rd with a 221.05.
The action will continue on Wednesday with the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back and 400 medley relay along with 3-meter men’s diving. Prelims begin at 10 a.m. and finals will start at 6 p.m. and be streamed on the ACC Network Extra.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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