CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. Third-year Mei Christensen set an Atlantic Coast Conference record for the second consecutive day as the Virginia men’s and women’s swimming teams concluded the UVa Invitational Saturday at the Aquatic and Fitness Center. The Cavaliers set two ACC records, four school records and 11 pool records during the three-day meet.
“That was probably the best mid-season meet that we have had in at least a decade, maybe longer,” Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino said. “Did it meet our expectations? Yes. Most importantly, the athletes fulfilled what they had hoped to do at this juncture in the season. I can’t recall that we have had the level of speed that we are exhibiting right now. A lot of the credit goes to our strength coach, Alissa Goldman. She is doing a great job helping our athletes get stronger, and speed is power. This was a great three days of swimming for us.”
Christensen supplemented her 100 back record set Friday with a win in the 200 back, touching at 1:54.71 for an NCAA B time. The previous conference record was set in 2008 by Clemson’s Michelle Parkhurst (1:55.33) and the previous school record was held by former Cavalier Brielle White (1:55.67). Christensen broke the Aquatic and Fitness Center pool record (1:56.42) she set earlier in 2008.
“She is just having a special season but I don’t want her to be comfortable,” Bernardino said. “I don’t want her teammates to be comfortable. I want them to continue to push each other to higher levels. I want her to dream of higher levels of excellence.”
The women additionally ended the night with a school record in the 400 free relay. The squad of Kristen Moores, Kristen Wallace, Christensen and Megan Evo also set a pool record in the event, finishing in 3:18.61.
Second-year Matt McLean led the men to a 1-2-3 finish in the 1650 free, his first time racing the ferocious mile in college, and became the second Cavalier to earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships. McLean’s time of 14:47.82 broke the Aquatic and Fitness Center pool record of 14:51.71 set by former Cavalier Ian Pritchard in 2001.
"It felt like most miles - long and hard," McLean said. "It was a pretty solid swim. It was good to be in a heat with the guys that I train with and I think we all swam pretty well. Everyone did a really good job."
“That says a lot about Matt’s training and mental toughness, because that is not an easy race to pick up,” Bernardino said. “He locked into a perfect rhythm and perfect pace. He just refused to allow himself to get comfortable. He stayed right on that pain threshold and coped with it.”
In the 100 free, Scot Robinson clinched yet another AFC pool record for the Cavaliers. His NCAA B time of 43.36 edged out the record of 43.59 set by NC State’s Cullen Jones in 2004. His first-place finish was complemented by Peter Geissinger’s second-place (44.86) while Alex Germain finished third (45.53).
In the 200 fly, Liz Shaw eclipsed her own AFC pool record by just under a second. Her time of 1:56.79 is an NCAA B qualifying time. Megan Evo placed second, finishing in 1:58.28 while Claire Crippen placed third with a time of 2:00.76.
Lee Robertson swam for a NCAA B qualifying time of 1:46.45 in the 200 fly to earn a first-place finish. He was followed by teammates Ian Vogt and Pat Reams who finished in 1:46.86 and 1:47.36, respectively.
The women started the evening strongly as Jen Narum finished the 1650 free in an NCAA B qualifying time of 16:17.65. Jenna Harris (16:32.10) was second and Katya Bachrouche (16:42.62) was third.
The men kept the pace up as David Wren earned a first-place finish in the 200 back and was followed by Daniel Johnson and Pat Mellors. Wren finished in 1:46.02, missing the NCAA B time by under a second. Johnson placed second with a time of 1:47.42 followed closely by Mellors who finished in 1:48.81.
The women went 1-2-3 in the 100 free. Kristen Moores placed first in 50.24 followed by Kristen Wallace (50.58) in second and Meredith Perdue (51.08) in third.
Ryan Hurley led a 1-2-3 finish for the Orange and Blue in the 200 breast. Hurley finished in 1:57.29 while John Azar (2:00.07) and Tim Hayes (2:02.28) were second and third, respectively.
The final event of the meet, Virginia’s 400 free relay team reached an NCAA B qualifying standard. The team of Robison, Geissinger, David Karasek and John Azar finished with a mark of 2:56.63.
“When you can step up in the sixth session and perform at this level, that says a lot about how hard the team has worked,” Bernardino said. “They proved to themselves that their hard work is beneficial.”
The men finished the Invitational with 1,447 total points, defeating Yale (733) and West Chester (602). The women also finished with 1,335 points with wins over the Bulldogs (817) and Golden Rams (719).
Virginia breaks for the semester and will return to action Jan. 7 at Florida.