Year in Review: 2010-2011 Virginia Swimming and Diving

Record:

Men: ACC Champions, 8th in NCAA Championships

Women: ACC Champions, 13th in NCAA Championships

MVP: Matt McLean, Lauren Perdue

Yes, I realize that having two MVPs takes away from the superlative that is the word "most." But what're you gonna do? So it was published, so it shall be. Both of these talented swimmers earned ACC Swimmer of the Year honors. It was McLean's second time picking up the award in his career, not to mention his Freshman of the Year honors in 2008. Oh, and don't forget the little piece of hardware he brought home, winning the NCAA championship in the 500 freestyle. It was the first Swimmer of the Year honors for Perdue, who's just a sophomore, but she also picked up Freshman of the Year honors last year. She ended up finishing second in the NCAA championship 200 freestyle.

Overview: The expectations of Virginia swimming are simple: win the ACC title, contend for the NCAA title. The men have won the title in 12 of the past 13 years, while the women just picked up their program's ninth. For both programs, it was the fourth consecutive ACC title (the first time the women have completed this feat). Think about that. If you were a senior on this team, you don't know anything other than winning the conference title. If those aren't expectations, I don't know what are. Head coach Mark Bernardino was named ACC Coach of the Year for the... you guessed it. Fourth consecutive season.

Season Highlight(s): What wasn't a highlight here? Alright, I'll pick one each.

For the men, I'm going with their NCAA performance. The Hoos got their highest finish in school history, coming in eighth, with a program high 200 points. Matt McLean brought home the Hoos' first national championship since 2000. Both USC and UVA were tied heading into the 400 freestyle relay, the final event of the day, with 174 points. Virginia came in sixth, while the Trojans were able to come in third and take seventh outright from the Hoos. This was the first time Virginia had ever cracked the top 10 in the NCAA championships.

For the women, I have to go with the ACC Championship. If you got a chance to stream any of this online, you'll know how emotional it was, not just for the swimmers, but also the fans and the competition. Virginia started the final session in second place, 37 points behind North Carolina. That final session, though, they looked invincible, sweeping the podium in the 200 butterfly, won the 100 freestyle and won the 400 freestyle relay, to edge the Tar Heels by 32 points and pick up the unprecedented fourth straight ACC title.

Season Lowpoint(s): Hard to find a low point, and this one doesn't technically count, but Virginia swimming lost one of its greatest alumni this past year in Fran Crippen, who passed away on October 23, 2010 while representing the United States in the 10K World Cup open water race. The 2006 alumnus had been the 2003 ACC Freshman of the Year and the 2004 ACC Championships Most Valuable Swimmer, and was just named USA Swimming Male Open Water Swimmer of the Year. It is nothing short of tragic to have lost a life so prematurely. Both the men's and women's teams swam in his honor this year, including fourth year sister Claire, who was among the most winningest Virginia class in school history.

Future Outlook: Virginia loses a lot of talent on both sides this year, but as I said at the beginning of this post, it is always an expectation to win an ACC title and to contend for the NCAAs. On a side note, if you haven't gotten a chance to attend a UVA swim meet or at the very least stream it online, you don't know what you're missing. Virginia Swimming fans are among the strongest in the nation, and their fanhood rivals that of any other Virginia program. If you want to see some rabid fans, complete with signs, banners, and coordinated cheers, look no further. Virginia swimming is exciting - and rewarding, for that matter.

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