The rest of the ACC’s men’s swimming teams may have missed their best chance of ending “The Streak.”
Virginia won the ACC championship in February for the eighth straight time, but only after trading the lead back and forth with Florida State on the final day of competition. The final margin of victory—8.5 points—was the Cavaliers’ narrowest since it began the streak in 1999 with a 6.5-point win over the Seminoles.
The eight straight ACC titles are the most by a Virginia team in any sport and the conference’s second-longest active streak, behind Duke’s 11 women’s golf championships. (Maryland owns the all-time mark, winning every ACC men’s indoor track crown from 1956 through 1980.)
“That was a good year to get us,” says Virginia swimming coach Mark Bernardino. “Nobody realizes what it took to get where we did with a pretty young roster. … Knowing they had to fight for their lives and go down deep in themselves, they showed a lot of courage.”
The men’s team lost only five contributors to graduation and returns its top performers in nine of 13 swimming events. The Cavaliers must replace both of their divers, though.
The incoming class shows some potential. “The majority of our travel team could be first- and second-years,” Bernardino says.
Their biggest challenge may be battling complacency. “Good is the enemy of great,” Bernardino says, “because good allows complacency to set in. I’m constantly worried because people think it’s a birthright, and it’s not. As of [the beginning of this season], you are no longer ACC champions. You are ACC contenders.”
The women’s team should have less worry about complacency. After finishing second in their ACC meet for the third straight season, the Cavaliers lost a deep and talented class to graduation, including two-time ACC Swimmer of the Year Brielle White. The team returns its top swimmers in just five of 13 events, plus talented diver Jackie Apple, who missed last season’s ACC meet with mononucleosis.
“We’re going to need a bunch of surprises on the women’s side,” Bernardino says. “We’re going to need our sophomores who grew into their skins by the end of last year to start out at that point this year.”