Virginia Swimming and Diving: New Staff, New Energy

Photo Courtesy of virginiasports.com

This past summer, the Cavalier’s Swimming and Diving team underwent a major coaching change and gained one new head coach and three new assistant coaches. On August 7th, Virginia’s director of athletics at the time, Craig Littlepage, announced Todd DeSorbo (@ToddDeSorbo)as the head men and women’s Swimming and Diving coach. Less than two weeks later, on August 18th, Littlepage announced that Virginia Swimming and Diving would add Tyler Fenwick (@UVACoachFenwick), Blaire Bachman(@blaire_bachman), and Wes Foltz(@wes_919)to the roster as assistant coaches.

Before joining the Cavaliers, DeSorbo served as an associate head coach at NC State for the past six seasons, playing an instrumental role in the rise of the Wolfpack Swim and Dive team. The NC State men’s swim team has won the past three ACC titles, and the women’s team won the 2017 ACC title, breaking Virginia women’s swimming streak of nine consecutive ACC titles. DeSorbo has expressed time and time again that UVa’s academic reputation, in addition to their notable athletic program, is what drew him to the University and is something that attracts recruits.

Recruiting was one of the concerns the new coaching staff initially had coming into the season because the Virginia Swimming and Diving team was without a coach for a majority of the summer—a crucial recruiting period. But, DeSorbo appears to not be too concerned. He recognizes that the Wahoos are a bit behind in the recruiting process, but is confident that the academic excellence of the University will be able to lure a strong new class of athletes.

The current members of the swim and dive team are more than satisfied with the new coaching staff.

When asked about the new coaches, sophomore Ryan Baker (@rbake97) said, “I love them. They’re really young as a whole and bring a lot of energy, but at the same time are very accomplished and know what they’re doing.”

Baker isn’t the only member of the team to express these sentiments.

“They have so much more energy along with modern approaches to coaching, and a lot of experience training and coaching Olympians,” sophomore Jason Quinn (@quinnjason77) said.

There seems to be a vast change in training for the Wahoos this year.

Baker notes that, “The old staff kind of just did what has always been done, but our new coaches are always trying new things and more recent training styles.”

Both Baker and sophomore Madeleine Vonderhaar (@maddyvonderhaar) believe that when the championship meets come around, the team will be in great shape.

“These coaches remind us every day of the end of the season and that it’s important to work on the little things to be faster in March,” Vonderhaar said.

Training isn’t the only thing that has changed with the new coaching staff— Vonderhaar, Quinn, and Baker all agree that the team dynamic has changed for the better with DeSorbo.

“I think the team is a lot closer and more driven with the new coaches. We are able to put our full trust in the coaching knowing from their experiences that we will do great if we just do what they tell us,” Quinn said.

The faith the staff is partially based in the fact that DeSorbo coached three athletes to the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 and assistant coach Bachman coached three 2016 gold medalists. It’s no doubt that they know how to create a healthy training environment and know what it takes to peak when it matters.

“I feel our team has a more positive attitude towards practice and racing when compared to last year. In practice, I have especially noticed that more people get excited for each other and want to push each other,” Vonderhaar said.

The new energetic and competitive atmosphere surrounding Virginia Swimming and Diving has already paid off. The season has barely begun and the Wahoos have already swept Penn State, Pitt, and LSU. Virginia senior Jennifer Marrkand (@jmarrkand22) was named ACC female swimmer of the week on October 24th, after securing three individual first-place finishes against Pitt and LSU. This Friday, November 3rd, Virginia Swimming and Diving will be competing against Duke in the Aquatic Fitness Center at 11 a.m.

In addition to the success in the water, Quinn mentions another important attribute the new coaching staff has brought to the team this year.

“They have a larger social media presence, which adds excitement to the sport and the team on a University level like we haven’t had before,” Quinn said.

It appears that the staff isn’t only trying to get their team excited for what’s in store, but is also trying to get the University excited about the endless possibilities this fresh start holds.

Follow Virginia Swimming and Diving on Instagram at @uvaswimdive to see the hype for yourself.

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Eliza Wilson
Eliza Wilson is a 2nd year in the College, intending on majoring in Media Studies and American Studies. She reports for sports and WUVA Weekly. In her free time she enjoys DJing, watching the Red Sox, and attending Wahoos sporting events.

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