By Sharon Robb
GREENSBORO, N.C.—The University of Virginia Cavaliers women’s team are national champions.
For the first time in the program’s history, the Cavaliers won the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships Saturday night at Greensboro Aquatic Center.
Among the field of 37 teams, the Cavaliers finished with 491 points, 137 points ahead of closest competitor N.C. State with 354 and Texas with 344.5. Defending champion Stanford was ninth with 159 points.
Head Coach Todd DeSorbo, now in his fourth year at Virginia, led the Cavaliers to its ACC title this season.
“I’m so proud of this group,” DeSorbo said. “They have been on a mission all year and just been grinding and excited for it. They just performed at a really high level all week.
“It is an exciting time for our program and our conference. To put someone in the ‘A’ Final in every single event is pretty impressive. It just shows overall depth. I think it takes a full team to win a national title and these ladies brought it every minute of every day.”
Virginia senior Paige Madden was named the MVP of the meet with three individual titles (500-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle, and 1650-yard freestyle) and one relay title.
It’s also the first swimming title for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Both Virginia and N.C. State are ACC teams. In the past 20 years, national titles have gone to Pac-12 and SEC Conference teams.
The only Florida team to finish among the Top 20 was University of Florida, 17th with 84.5 points. University of Miami was 23rd with 42 points, all from its divers; and Florida Gulf Coast was 32nd with six points.
Two Florida Gold Coast and former South Florida high school swimmers are members of the NCAA champion. They are Gulliver Prep alum Kyla Valls, a senior, and Westminster Academy alum Jessica Nava, a junior. Valls was a member of the winning 800-yard freestyle relay team.
Final night winners were:
Virginia senior Paige Madden, 1,650-yard freestyle, best time 15:41.86.
Wisconsin freshman Phoebe Bacon, 200-yard backstroke, 1:48.32.
Michigan junior Maggie MacNeil, 100-yard freestyle, 46.02. Cal junior Isabel Ivey was third in 46.95. Virginia senior Kayla Valls was 54th in 50.03. Florida International’s Jasmine Nocentini scratched from the event.
N.C. State junior Sophie Hansson, 200-yard breaststroke, 2:03.86.
Michigan junior Olivia Carter, 200-yard butterfly, 1:51.33. Virginia junior Jessica Nava, 17th, 1:55.71.
Indiana freshman Tarrin Gilliland won the women’s platform diving title with 338.40 points. Florida International junior Maha Gouda was 21st with 244.10 points.
South Florida Aquatic Club’s Kathleen Golding of University of Florida competed in her fourth and final event, anchoring the Gators’ 400-yard freestyle relay that finished 19th in 3:15.99 with teammates Talia Bates, Gabrielle Hillis and Katie Mack.
The NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships are March 24-27, also at Greensboro Aquatic Center.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com