Editor's Note: In addition to being a member of our community here, Scott Beard (scottbeardVT, @scobeard) is an alumni and former Swimmer for Virginia Tech (2004-08). While at Tech he was an All-American, 6-Time ACC Champion, ACC Record Holder in the 100 Butterfly, 7-time All-ACC First Team Selection, Team MVP, held 7 team records, and Olympic Trials Qualifier. He now swims once a week and races the old ladies doing water aerobics to relive the glory days. He asked me if he could write about the ACC Swimming Championships, and there was no way I'd say no. Enjoy. --Joe
Last night, the H2Okies began competition at the ACC Championship Meet.
The Virginia Tech swimming and diving program kicked off the first day of the 2013 ACC Men's Swimming and Diving Championships with a silver and bronze medal Wednesday evening at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. The H2Okies shattered school records in the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays.
Excluding diving, leading the ACC after day one is the Florida State with 70 points. The Cavaliers are second with 68 points, while the H2Okies and North Carolina are tied for third with 66. Georgia Tech follows with 54 points and Boston College is sixth with 48. NC State and Duke round out the bottom with 30 and 24, respectively.
Unlike the dual meet season, which consists of teams facing off against each other head-to-head, the championship meet features every ACC team's best athletes to duke it out in a sort of Royal Rumble format.
Last year, Virginia won the meet for the 15th time in 16 years. Coming in second was Virginia Tech, behind by only 32 points, the closest margin of victory since 2006. That year, the 'Hoos held off a late-meet surge from FSU to claim their 8th consecutive title. The next season (2007), in what remains as one of the most historic championships in years, FSU finally swam past UVA to claim the ACC Championship.
After that loss UVA was so upset that they immediately packed up, jumped on the bus, and didn't stick around to participate in post-meet ceremonies. FSU on the other hand was jubilant. They threw their coach in the water (a tradition much like a Gatorade bath), then jumped in themselves, and partied. It is safe to say that the rest of the ACC was celebrating with them as well, as everyone had been ready to see a new champion on the podium. Unfortunately, the next season, UVA stood on top once again, proving that defeating the best is no easy task. They haven't lost since, continuing their dominance of the ACC while the rest of the teams fight for second and third place.
I tell this story because I think history is about to repeat itself.
Virginia Tech returns the majority of its talent from last year, and has added a few newcomers capable of scoring some serious points. Head Coach Ned Skinner has the best team he's ever had, and given that he graduates a lot of talented seniors this year, this might be his last chance for a while to take down UVA. Take into consideration the recent success of the diving program under Coach Ron Piemonte, and there's considerable reason to believe that the swim team will be bringing a championship trophy back to Blacksburg.
Below are last year's results, a list of returning All-ACC swimmers, as well as a list of current Virginia Tech Swimmers and Divers Ranked top-ten in their event. For reference, scoring goes like this:
- 20 points for first, 17th for second, 16th for 3rd all the way down to one point for a 16th place finish
- Relays score double points, but each team can only field one relay
- Diving is scored just like swimming (diving has already been completed as they dove last week during the women's meet. I'll include the diving breakdown at the bottom too)
2012 ACC Championship Final Men's Results
- Virginia (626.5)
- Virginia Tech (594.5)
- North Carolina (564)
- Florida State (542)
- NC State (334.5)
- Georgia Tech (289)
- Duke (271.5)
- Clemson (233.50)
- Maryland (207.5)
- Boston College (78)
- Miami (27)
2012 Returning All-ACC H2Okies
- Greg Mahon: 100 Fly (first-team), 200 Fly (second-team), 200 Individual Medley (third-team)
- Nathan Hoisington: 100 Breaststroke (second-team)
- Zach McGinnis: 100 Backstroke (first-team)
- Logan Shinholser: 1 meter (first-team), 3 meter (first-team), and Platform (second-team)
- Ryan Hawkins: Platform (first-team)
Virginia Tech Swimmers entering the championships with top ten times this season
Zachary McGinnis, Sr.
100 Backstroke — 1st
200 Backstroke — 3rd
50 Freestyle — 7th
100 Freestyle — 4th
Greg Mahon, Sr.
100 Butterfly — 6th
200 Butterfly — 7th
200 Individual Medley — 4th
Adam Skipper, Sr.
100 Breaststroke — 1st
200 Breaststroke — 2nd
Alex Lutterbien, Sr.
400 Individual Medley — 7th
Nick Tremols, Jr.
100 Butterfly — 10th
200 Butterfly — 8th
Morgan Lattimer, So.
100 Butterfly — 3rd
200 Butterfly — 4th
Owen Burns, So.
200 Freestyle — 10th
Collin Higgins, So.
200 Backstroke — 8th
Joe Bonk, Fr.
50 Freestyle — 10th
100 Freestlye — 8th
Brian Rothschild, Fr.
200 Individual Medley — 8th
Michael Szuba, Fr.
1650 Freestyle — 8th
Logan Shinholser, Sr.
1 Meter — 2nd
3 Meter — 2nd
Platform — 1st
Ryan Hawkins, Jr.
1 Meter — 7th
3 Meter — 7th
Platform — 2nd
Jared Butts, So.
3 Meter — 6th
Platform — 4th
John Trope, Jr.
Platform — 6th
Top-10 Swimmers by Event
50 Freestyle: 7th, 10th
100 Freestyle: 4th, 8th
200 Frestyle: 10th
1650 Freestyle: 8th
100 Backstroke: 1st
200 Backstroke: 3rd, 8th
100 Breaststroke: 1st
200 Breaststroke: 2nd
100 Butterfly: 3rd, 6th, 8th
200 Butterfly: 4th, 7th, 8th
200 Individual Medley: 4th, 8th
400 Individual Medley: 7th
200 Free Relay: 3rd
400 Free Relay: 3rd
800 Free Relay Relay: 4th
200 Medley Relay: 2nd
400 Medley Relay: 6th
1 Meter: 2nd 7th
3 Meter: 2nd, 6th, 7th
Platform: 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th
Diving Points Breakdown For this Meet
Virginia Tech: 139
Points will be awarded in real time, meaning that they will add diving points to the team total when the divers would have dove. They do that out of protocol, but for all intents and purposes Tech heads into the meet with a 74 point cushion over UVA, and a 117 point cushion over UNC.
Keys to Winning
I talked with Head Coach Ned Skinner, and he seems confident in Virginia Tech's chance to make some noise this season, "U. VA has had a stranglehold on the ACC, but parity is certainly increasing in the conference. The Hokies, along with FSU, UNC, and NC State have all been gaining momentum and the meet looks to be closer than ever. Especially when you factor diving into the equation."
This is true, as Virginia Tech's divers might be one of the single biggest contributors to their recent success. Formerly a relative unknown on the diving scene, Virginia Tech diving has become the class of the ACC, and nationally recognized as one of the best in the NCAA.
"The depth of a team becomes such an important factor in the team race in a championship swim/dive meet. A school is always looking for new names and superstars to emerge. This includes relays in which points are doubled."
Depth was a concern for this team as recently as 4 years ago, but a wave of fresh new assistant coaches on the deck has led to fantastic recruiting and a deeper talent pool. Now, for the first time in history, Virginia Tech has swimmers that can win championships, and a surplus of role-players that can score in the middle of the pack. Depth is how ACC Championships are won.
"Swimmers like Zach McGinnis and Greg Mahon look to defend their titles in the pool along with Logan Shinholser and Ryan Hawkins on the boards. All four men are looking sharp!"
The four men coach mentioned are the backbone of this team. All NCAA Qualifiers and ACC Champions, they will set the tone for the meet. Zach and Greg are two of the best swimmers in the ACC, and last year, were the first male swimmers to win an ACC Championship for Virginia Tech since 2008.
Story Lines to Watch
UNC isn't out of the mix either. Traditionally, UNC and UVA have dominated the ACC, and neither is never too far removed from the best.
NC State head coach Braden Holloway is a former assistant and associate head coach for the Hokies. He left Virginia Tech two years ago to take the helm at his alma mater, and has done well. While no bad blood exists, there's a friendly competition between the two. The Hokies and Wolfpack men's meet ended in a 150-point tie this season (extremely rare).
FSU Head Coach and former British Olympian Neil Harper was a teammate of Ned Skinner's on the LSU Swim Team that won a SEC Championship in the early 80's. FSU is very similar to Virginia Tech, as they historically specialize in the shorter events. Relays between the two are always a showdown (in 2007, Virginia Tech out-touched FSU in two separate relays by 1/100 and 1/10 seconds, respectively). Neil was the last coach to beat Virginia, and a friendly rivalry suggest that Ned is hungry to do the same.
Virginia and Virginia Tech are polar opposites. Virginia Tech leans towards sprints and shorter events, while UVA fields by and far one of the best mid-distance and distance programs in the nation. However, the rivalry is strong, as there is no love lost between the two. A victory by Virginia Tech would claim bragging rights and potentially change the landscape of recruiting in the commonwealth.
Given all of the talent Virginia Tech returns, the cushion the diving has given the team going into tonight, and based on how wonderfully the women swam last week, I feel that Virginia Tech has an excellent chance to win this thing.
Of course I say this because on paper things look good, but to be honest it's the team's intangibles that give me confidence. How the women do every year is a very good indicator on how the men will do, and the women performed much better than projected. It seems they hit their *taper, and swam lights out. I expect the men to do the same. This team also has a racing mentality like I've never seen, and all season I've been hearing about how hungry they are to win. To them, winning the ACC Championship isn't a just a goal, it's a maxim.
Virginia historically dominates the distance events and 200s of strokes, while Virginia Tech does well in the sprints, relays, and 100s of strokes. Watch for UVA do very well on day one and make it close. The events on Friday are Virginia Tech's specialty as it features the 100 butterfly and backstroke, two events Virginia Tech will score a multitude of points on, and the 400 Medley Relay, which I expect Virginia Tech to win. Going into the final day on Saturday, both teams should be battling it out down the stretch. It is my feeling that this meet will come down to how well Virginia Tech can compete in the 200s of stroke on the last day. Don't be surprised if it comes down to the last relay of the meet either.
Virginia Tech has risen to the top in a very short amount of time, and beating UVA while I was swimming was a pipe dream. For this team, it isn't, and I don't need to further express how huge it would be to send UVA packing before the award ceremony commences while a coach, fully clothed in maroon and orange, and his team celebrate as champions in the water.
Meet information, results, and a live stream of the meet can be found on the ACC Website. @VT_SwimDive and @ACCSwimDive are good accounts to follow for results on Twitter. Prelims start at 11:00 AM each morning and finals start every evening at 7:00 PM. Finals can be pretty exciting and generally don't last long. Please feel free to post any questions you have in the comments section, I'd be happy to elaborate on anything that might not be clear. In fact, I encourage it, because the nuances are what make this sport interesting.
*Taper is a term used to refer to an athlete that has rested for peak performance. Usually at the end of a season, a rested swimmer will swim full seconds faster than usual.