Jan. 8, 2010
By Zach Stipe, Media Relations Graduate Assistant
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The 13th-ranked Tennessee women's swimming and diving team will look to capture its fourth consecutive dual meet victory this season in a matchup with No. 11 Virginia at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the UVA Aquatic and Fitness Center.
The UT divers competed earlier this week at the Georgia Diving Invitational and Shootout, but this will be the swimmers first meet of the New Year.
"Our team is really excited about this weekend," Lady Vol head swimming coach Matt Kredich said. "Virginia is one of the elite programs in the country. They're extremely well-coached, they're very good in every event and very deep as well. Their national ranking in my opinion is too low - there are not many teams that have swum better than UVA this year. Add that to the fact that we're coming off of a seven-week period of no competition, and it's clear that we have a big challenge in front of us.
"We'll certainly have to be better than we've been so far this year in order to be competitive with Virginia. But we've put in a lot of really good training in the past two months, so I expect to see some people progress substantially from first semester. Great competition has a way of clarifying strengths and weaknesses so I think we'll learn a lot this weekend."
Sophomore diver Gabrielle Trudeau grabbed a fourth-place finish on the platform at the Georgia Diving Meet, and will lead the Lady Vol divers in 1-meter and 3-meter competition against the Cavaliers.
"I'm looking forward to competing against a fine Virginia squad on Saturday and continuing the progress we made at Georgia this past week," UT diving coach Dave Parrington said.
The Lady Vol swimmers last meet was in mid-November at the Tennessee Invitational, where they placed third.
At the UT-hosted quad, freshman Kelsey Floyd snagged 10 top-four finishes over three days. For her efforts she earned her third SEC Freshman of the Week award on Nov. 24.
Other top performers for the Big Orange through the first half of the 2009-10 season have been sophomore Jenny Connolly, (fly, back) and seniors Michele King (sprint free), Jamie Saffer (breast) and Alex Barsanti (breast).
Connolly holds both UT records in the back events and was runner-up in the 100y back at the 2009 SEC Championships.
King is a 15-time All-American and the defending SEC Champion in the 50y free, while Saffer set the SEC Championships record in the 100y breast a year ago. Barsanti holds the Tennessee record in the 200y breast.
All four rank among the SEC's top ten in at least two individual events.
The dual should be a tightly contested meet between two talented and similar teams that bring a 3-3 all-time record against each other into Saturday's matchup.
Virginia, the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion, finished one place (12th) and 10 points (117) ahead of Tennessee at the 2009 NCAA Championships. This season, the Cavaliers dropped their first contest - a loss to Florida - but have rebounded to win their last three meets. The Lady Vols have also won three straight after dropping their first meet at Louisville.
Virginia returns nine All-Americans compared to eight for the Lady Vols, and saw all five relays claim A-A accolades last season.
The Cavaliers have seven individuals with the ACC's fastest times in an event so far this season.
Among those conference leaders is senior Mei Christenson, the 2009 ACC Swimmer of the Year. Christenson and Connolly should have a formidable battle in the backstroke events. Christenson ranks fifth in the country in the 100y back (53.09) and seventh in the 200y back (1:55.11). She finished seventh and sixth, respectively, at the NCAA Championships in the back events. Connolly finished ninth in the 100y back at last year's NCAAs and her best 2009-10 time of 54.40 ranks 19th in the country.
Live results of Saturday's action can be found at VirginiaSports.com.