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State of the program: Virginia women’s swim and dive

Fresh off back to back national titles, the program earns high marks

NCAA Womens Swimming: Swimming & Diving Championship Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

​​As the 2021-2022 athletic year has come to an end for the Virginia Cavaliers, we at Streaking the Lawn will be running a state of the program series for the numerous athletic programs that are a part of the university.

In the past few weeks we took a look at the men’s lacrosse program, the women’s basketball program, the men’s basketball program, the baseball program, the football program, and the women’s soccer program by evaluating the confidence level in four critical categories: success over the last five years, coaching staff, current roster makeup, and the future roster/recruiting. The four degrees of confidence are, in descending order, extreme, solid, mild, and low.

Today, we’ll take a look at a women’s swim and dive program fresh off its second consecutive national championship. This program has offered few reasons for pessimism over the past few seasons, and they earn perfect marks in our grading categories thanks to a truly dominant run of success.

Confidence in performance over the last 5 years: Extreme

You’d be hard-pressed to find a college athletics program more successful than Virginia women’s swim and dive as of late: they’re fresh off winning back-to-back NCAA championships by large margins, most recently taking home 11 first-place titles (7 individual, 4 relays) at the 2022 Women’s NCAAs in Atlanta.

In that 2022 title meet, Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass each won all three of their individual events, combing for a perfect 120 points — a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since 2000. The duo also competed on all four of Virginia’s first-place relay teams and set four American records: Douglass in the 50 free (breaking her own record), the 100 fly, and the 200 breast, and Walsh in the 200 IM.

Confidence in coaching staff: Extreme

Virginia hit an absolute home run when they hired head coach Todd DeSorbo away from NC State in August of 2017. Under DeSorbo, they’ve developed the best women’s swim and dive program in the country and taken home two NCAA championships during his five-year tenure.

DeSorbo, who helms the men’s and women’s programs for Virginia, was named the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s College Coach of the Year after taking home his second straight national title in 2022. He’s both an exceptional recruiter and excellent at developing talent — in addition to collegiate success, multiple Virginia swimmers under DeSorbo have gone on to success at the international level. As long as he’s in charge at Virginia, the program will have a competitive edge.

Confidence in current roster: Extreme

One of the most impressive things about Virginia’s national title in 2022 is that they return every single first-place finisher from that championship to the 2023 roster. Kate Douglass will be a senior, Alex Walsh will be a junior, and Alex’s sister Gretchen Walsh — who took first place in the 100 free and also competed on all four first-place relay teams — will be a sophomore.

The ‘Hoos should be favorites to three-peat in 2023, and have a roster absolutely stacked with talent. UVA’s top swimmers have nothing left to prove; there’s no reason to doubt them headed into next season.

Confidence in future roster/recruiting: Extreme

Under DeSorbo, Virginia’s program has nailed it on the recruiting trail, continually landing the nation’s best up-and-coming swimmers. Before Kate Douglass and the Walsh duo were dominating for Virginia, it was Paige Madden, who won three individual titles at the 2021 Women’s NCAAs. The program has proven an ability to recruit and develop top-end talent.

Again, as long as the status quo remains the same and DeSorbo continues to land the best swimmers on the eastern half of the United States, there’s no reason to doubt the program’s ability to maintain its current run of success.