Virginia Men’s Swimming & Diving Eyes More Success

A young team from a season ago, many of the top swimmers and divers for Virginia return on the men’s side for this winter. A 10th place finish in the NCAA Championships (second-best result in the ACC), Todd Desorbo welcomes back a talented group that shattered some records last year. Surpassing North Carolina State is a tall task, but the Cavaliers have placed well nationally, securing top 10 finishes in three straight seasons, and have the potential to push higher up the standings.

Matt Brownstead had an astonishing performance at the NCAA Championships, as he posted two new school records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, placing third and fourth, respectively. Brownstead is also part of the freestyle medley group that is all over the UVA record book.

He, Matt King, Connor Boyle, and August Lamb have three of the top five times in the 200-yard freestyle relay. During the ACC Championships, this group broke the American record in the 200 relay with a 1:14.47 time to outlast the Wolfpack team. The 200 team was also nearly two seconds faster than 2021’s (1:16.01). Substitute Lamb with Jack Aikins, and this group has the top two times in the 400 free relay as well.

For King, the Alabama transfer made his impact last season in both individuals and relay competition. He battled his relay partner Brownstead for the Virginia record in the 100-yard freestyle at the NCAA meet. King broke it first, as he finished his preliminary race in 41.34. Overall, King finished No. 7 in the event, in addition to No. 12 in the 50 free.

Aikins also returns after breaking the 200-yard backstroke program record at the NCAA Championships. After missing out on the finals, the then-freshman turned it up in the consolation, beating teammate Justin Grender’s time that he set earlier in the day. Aikins’ 1:39.26 time just bested NC State’s Kacper Stokowski, who was .01 seconds slower. At the ACC meet, he posted the then-second-best program time in the 50 free for Virginia and ultimately finished No. 6.

Although both mostly see success in relay races, Boyle and Lamb have success in their sprint races too. The duo ranks No. 4 and 5 in top times in the 50 free, with Boyle having the No. 3 fastest time in the 100 free, which earned him All-ACC honors. Overall, these types of sprint races are where the Cavaliers have had success, thanks to DeSorbo’s experience at NC State working with the sprinters. The fact Virginia has five sprinters that can be placed into relays proves how much depth is truly on this team.

At breaststroke, Noah Nichols is at the top of the group in the individual and the medley events. He swam in the 200 medley relay at the NCAA Championships, where he helped the team finish No. 11. He also finished No. 5 and No. 9 in the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the ACC meet, and No. 19 at the NCAA meet. Outside of Nichols, Max Iida recorded the sixth best times in school history in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.

Josh Fong finished No. 5 in the 200-yard butterfly during the ACC Championships. He also raced in the 400 medley and the 100 and 200 fly at the NCAA meet. Despite posting the fourth-quickest time in the 100 fly back in 2021, Max Edwards did not qualify for the national meet. His best time also came at the ACC Championships, but he finished No. 22, while placing No. 13 and 16 in the 100 and 200 backstroke.

One area that may concern the Cavaliers is diving. Walker Creedon is gone, who was the only Virginia diver to compete at the NCAA Championships where he placed No. 40 in platform diving. Creedon has left a hole in the diving events, as he posted the top scores in the 1m, 3m, and platform events last season. The top returnees include Joseph Perreault and Nicholas Sanders, who both finished in the top 25 in all their competitions. Oliver Mills placed No. 25 in both the 1m and 3m at the NCAA Zone A Championships, while Perreault placed No. 14 and No. 17 in the same events.

The remaining three will look to benefit from the new diving coach, Josh Arndt. He has had more success in women’s diving during his tenure at UConn and UMass, but he received two Atlantic 10 and two Big East Women’s Diving Coach of the Year awards prior to joining Virginia. Arndt had success as a diver in his own right, earning All-American honors in 2016. The Cavaliers have the swimmers to compete and bringing in a coach like Arndt should raise the ceiling for the diving team.

On the men’s side, Virginia has had trouble reaching the top of the conference because of the powerhouse NC State. The Wolfpack are always going to compete for a national title.