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State of the Program - Women’s Swimming and Diving

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The Hoos have been consistent and are look like they’re moving in the right direction.

Virginia Media Relations

There are, obviously, a lot of very strong sports teams at Virginia. There are some you know about. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you know the history of success from the lacrosse and soccer programs. You also know about the recent success in baseball and men’s tennis. And you may have heard something about basketball as well.

But there’s a good chance you don’t know much about one of the most successful programs at UVA: swimming and diving. Today, we’re talking specifically about women’s swim and dive, but the men have also been successful.

There’s been consistent success, including Leah Smith winning a couple of medals at the 2016 Olympics. Current head coach Todd DeSorbo took over in 2017 for Mark Bernardino, who was the head coach for 35 years and was immensely successful. Bernadino’s teams won 27 ACC titles and finished in the top 10 nationally four times.

Despite the coaching turnover, the women’s teams have not suffered dramatically. As you’ll see below, they are still perennially among the nation’s best teams.

Women’s Swim and Dive Five Year Results

UVA Women’s Swim and Dive Five Year Results

Year ACC Rank NCAA Championships Final Ranking
Year ACC Rank NCAA Championships Final Ranking
2018-2019 2nd 6th 11th
2017-2018 1st 9th 8th
2016-2017 2nd 12th 8th
2015-2016 1st 5th 3rd
2014-2015 1st 5th 4th

As you can see, the women’s team had two of the best years in history, but fell off a little bit since then. This year, they fell out of the top 10 in the final rankings for the first time since 2013 (Bernardino’s last year). Then again, the ladies also finished 6th in the NCAA Championships, which suggests improvement ahead.

2019 Recap

2019 Stars: Page Madden, Morgan Hill, Abby Richter, Sydney Dusel

As mentioned, the ladies finished sixth in the NCAA Championships. That was second in the ACC behind Louisville. Though Virginia also finished second at the ACC Championships, it was NC State with the win and not Louisville.

That sixth place finish was a total team effort as Virginia had just one medalist, Paige Madden’s silver in the 500 Free. Madden also finished 5th in the 200 free and 10th in the 200 back. Morgan Hill finished 7th in the 100 Fly, 15th in the 100 free and 13th in the 50 free. Abby Richter finished 12th in the 100 individual medley.

The Hoos also placed 8th in a couple of relays (the 400 medley and the 200 free) and ninth in the 800 Free. Those events are big points.

In the ACC championships, Virginia faired better. They won the 800 free relay, while Hill won the 50 free and the 100 fly.

Virginia diver Sydney Dusel finished second in the 3 meter diving competition at the ACC Championships. Virginia generally does not compete in diving as well as in swimming. In the NCAAs, Kylie Tobin competed for the Hoos in diving, but did not qualify for any of the finals.

2020 Outlook

Key Returners: Page Madden, Morgan Hill, Abby Richter, Sydney Dusel, Kylie Tobin

Of the swimmers (and diver) listed above, every single one of them return for 2020. Of the three relays I’ve mentioned, the Hoos lose just one swimmer, Eryn Eddy.

The program loses seven athletes, including some record holders, but with Morgan Hill, Paige Madden, and Abby Richter returning, things are pretty solid. Hill, in particular looks poised for a big senior year. She’s already one of the best short distance swimmers in UVA history, holding the school record in both the 100 free and the 100 fly.

Here’s a VirginiaSportsTV feature on Hill:

Oh, and the Hoos also brought in a great recruiting class. It includes the number one swimmer in the nation, according to collegeswimming.com, Kate Douglass. The class also includes two others from the top 12 and five of the top 100.

Even the Diving program looks like it might be strong, as Dusel is arguably the best diver in UVA history already heading into her fourth year.

That sounds like a recipe for success for 2020 and beyond.