NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming Championships: ACC Making Its Voice Heard in Greensboro
For many years in NCAA women’s swimming and diving, the Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference dominated the national landscape with dynasties and titles coming from Auburn, Georgia, Stanford and Cal. In the last 20 years, all but two of the national titles went to one of those schools, with Arizona winning in 2008 out of the Pac-12 and Florida winning in 2010 out of the SEC.
But in 2021, in the start of a new decade and the start of a new era, the power has shifted to the East Coast, a little further up the Atlantic to the ACC as Virginia and NC State are in line to finish 1-2 when all is said and done tonight. Before this year, no ACC team has ever won the NCAA women’s meet, nor has ever finished second. Now in 2021, the ACC is slated to have the two best teams in the country.
“We had been looking for respect from the swimming community for a bit and I think we are finally in the spotlight so that is pretty exciting,” NC State senior Sirena Rowe said.
And the respect has certainly been earned, even if delayed. NC State and Virginia have won nine of the 12 swimming events this weekend in Greensboro, and the ACC has the top seeded time in tonight’s finals in four more events.
2021 has been a coming out party for NC State and Virginia, albeit postponed after the cancellation last year. Heading into this year, Virginia had never won a relay at NCAAs, and snapped that streak on night one in the 800 free. NC State had never won a relay or an individual event in the pool, and thus far has won four titles in Greensboro.
In a sport that has long been dominated by powerhouses Stanford, Cal and Georgia, new powerhouses have been forming in Raleigh and Charlottesville, and they should be putting the finishing touches on their mansions tonight.
And it’s not just those two schools in the ACC doing well. North Carolina is currently in 10th place, seeking their first top ten finish since 2001. Louisville is in a bit of a rebuilding year but is in 13th with many underclassmen leading the charge. Even Miami and Georgia Tech are scoring All-America honors on the diving boards.
“I feel so proud to be part of the ACC. I think it is very cool to be an up and coming conference,” Rowe said. “I think we have been talented for a long time but when there’s more talented people, you aren’t necessarily going to be recognized.
“I think this was the most fun ACC championship that I had been a part of as part of this team and I felt absolutely no shame losing to a team that was more than likely going to win a national title. I have so much respect for Virginia and so much respect for our team because there is no shame in getting second to such an elite team and I think it brings a lot of attention to our conference and it is very cool to be in that position.”
For NC State, which took second place at the ACC championships behind a dominant Virginia team, the respect is there for their rivals from Charlottesville. Both schools are in the same recruiting pool, targeting the same area of the country, and both bring out the best in each other each time they race.
“They have really really pushed us this year and last year and it’s been really good,” NC State junior Kylee Alons said last night from her hotel. “It’s brought out the best in both of us and it’s been really good for our conference to see it get deeper and deeper and faster and faster and it’s a win for everyone involved.”
“I know it motivates me so much in practice,” NC State sophomore Katharine Berkoff said. “Even in dual meets, it is so amazing to have our relay against there’s and know these are the top relays in the country and we are doing it in a dual meet. It is such an honor to have that competition constantly at ACCs. It’s cool to see both of us doing really well at the national level.”
With one more session to go, it will certainly be a banner day for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Virginia has never placed higher than fifth and NC State never higher than seventh. And these teams aren’t going anywhere in the near future.
Elsewhere in the pool:
Virginia once again leads the ups, downs as they should be well on their way to the national title tonight with NC State in tow. The battle for third should get interesting with Texas and California, as Alabama will put a late charge on Ohio State for the top five, which would be Alabama’s highest finish since 1983.
Kentucky is in line for its highest finish in school history as the SEC champ Wildcats sit tenth, and have never been higher than 12th.
NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships Day Four Ups, Downs (Including Platform Diving)
Virginia 6, 0
NC State 5, 1
Texas 4, 4
Alabama 4, 0
Purdue 3, 0
California 2, 3
Kentucky 2, 3
Georgia 2, 2
Michigan 2, 1
Texas A&M 2, 1
Indiana 2, 0
North Carolina 1, 2
Tennessee 1, 1
Wisconsin 1, 0
Virginia Tech 1, 0
Nebraska 1, 0
Arizona 1, 0
Stanford 0, 3
Louisville 0, 3
Florida 0, 2
Northwestern 0, 2
Georgia Tech 0, 2
Houston 0, 2
Notre Dame 0, 2
Southern California 0, 1
Duke 0, 1
Navy 0, 1
Oakland 0, 1
Wyoming 0, 1
Florida Gulf Coast 0, 1
Scores Based on Seed:
Data compiled by Price Fishback. The numbers below are the amount of points each team gained or lost this morning based on the psych sheet seeds.
Texas A&M +18
North Carolina +17
Ohio State -3
NC State -8