In a turbulent year, many things have changed, but the UVA Swim team’s conquest of the ACC has not, as both the men and women’s teams dominated the No. 15 Virginia Tech Hokies in Charlottesville this weekend. The women’s swim team, the reigning ACC Champions, currently ranked second in the nation, won 202.5-96.5, while the No. 10 men’s team won 161-137, despite Head Swim Coach Todd DeSorbo and Head Dive Coach Drew Livingston missing the week of practice.
During the Saturday session, the women won 13 of the 14 events, utterly dominating the competition from start to finish. Eight individual women won events, with sophomore Kate Douglass leading the team with three individual wins in the 100 yard backstroke, the 100 yard freestyle, and the 200 year Individual Medley, in addition to a relay win for the 200 yard medley relay. Sophomore Maddie Donohoe also won the two distance freestyle events, the 500 yard freestyle and the 100 yard freestyle.
On the men’s side, senior Matthew Otto, junior Justin Grender, and freshman Matt Brownstead all won two events each, leading the men’s team to victory. Otto won the 1000 yard freestyle and the 200 yard breaststroke, with Grender sweeping the backstroke events, winning the 100 and 200 yard backstrokes. In the short freestyle events, Brownstead won the 50 and the 100 yard freestyles.
It is evident that the pandemic has not diminished the ability of the Swim team to continue to compete at the highest level. The team lifts and does their dry-land exercises in masks, and they swim together in a lower capacity, with swimmers starting on either end to lower contact on the wall. Despite these disruptions, the team’s performance has not declined. “The athletes just continue to thrive and show up big against our cross state rival,” commented Coach Todd DeSorbo after the win, “It’s always a fun and intense competition with VT and our young men and women stepped up to the challenge as they always do.” Last season, the women credited the team win to the “army” that is required for the team to function together.
For some, this senior meet provided bittersweet emotions. Senior Diver Tristan Gess, who placed third in the 1M diving competition, said this meet “gave [him] a chance to look back,” while also moving forward, filled with memories. For the diver’s, COVID has been isolating, with divers practicing individually during assigned slots. However, for Gess “it wasn’t really ever about the wins and loses each season, but the people I got to surround myself with.”
The Wahoos will continue their ACC matchups on January 22 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina against the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.