Olympians dominate at ACC champs

A diver teeters on the edge of the board during the ACC swim and dive championships, held at Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center. Tech men and women finished fifth and tenth respectively. // Photo by Caitlin Aycock Student Publications

The McAuley Aquatic Center played host to the ACC Championship Swim and Dive Meet over five days and nights, highlighted by dominant showings from the Virginia women and North Carolina State men. 

For Tech, it was not the greatest showing of all time, but certainly a respectable one, notably on the guys side as freshman Berke Saka and Mert Kilavuz, sophomore Batur Ünlü and senior Caio Pumputis all lead the Jacket men to a fifth place finish out of 12 participating schools. The women’s team finished tenth. 

Tech did not win a single event, but Pumputis finished fourth overall in the 200 Individual Medley with a 1:43.89 time, a little over a half second faster than his prelims swim. Pumputis also finished third in the 200 Breaststroke, after either being in first or within 0.1 seconds of first after the first three 50-meter stretches. He finished with a 1:52.19. No one in the final beat his current ACC record in the event of 1:50.79.

Tech’s best relay showing was in the men’s 200 Medley Relay, which featured senior Kyle Barone, Pumputis, Christian Ferraro and Austin Daniel, placing fourth with a 1:23.80 time, 0.65 seconds away from the third place podium spot won by Florida State’s relay. 

A pandemic rule was retained for this meet, as coaches voted to have only four teams swim per heat during the relays. This was done last year as a COVID-19 precaution, but the head coaches of the teams voted to do the same again this year as it provides more clean water for swimmers to go through with there being an open lane on both sides of a team’s lane. Traditionally, eight teams swim per heat in a relay event, with the end lanes left open.

Junior McKenzie Campbell had the best meet of the Tech women, placing 15th in the 500 Freestyle at 4:50.40, 9th in the 400 Individual Medley and winning the B-final in that event at 4:11.23, along with winning the C-final of the 200 Butterfly at 1:56.29. No women’s relay finished higher than tenth place.

For the Virginia Cavalier women, it was their third consecutive ACC championship and 18th overall, winning every event on Tuesday through Thursday. 

They won 14 events overall, of which three did not include at least any of Alex Walsh (Tokyo Olympics silver medalist), Gretchen Walsh or Kate Douglass. They are also the defending NCAA champions. Walsh and Douglass both scored the maximum 96 points a single swimmer could earn, and Walsh was voted the ACC Most Valuable Swimmer by the coaches at the meet. 

Walsh was part of six record swims. In the relays, the 800 Freestyle earned the ACC Meet record; the 200 Freestyle won the ACC record; the 400 Medley won the U.S. Open record (fastest swim on U.S. soil); the 400 Freestyle won an ACC record. Individually, her 200 Freestyle was a Virginia school record, and her 200 Breaststroke was an ACC record.

The North Carolina State men far and away won the men’s competition by 309 points over Louisville the most  earned since 2014 when the ACC changed their scoring structure, and is the third largest win in meet history. It was their 31st ACC championship. They won eight events, but every single swimmer on their roster registered at least seven points. They won eight events, but every single swimmer on their roster registered at least seven points.

Virginia Tech’s Youssef Ramadan won Most Valuable Swimmer on the men’s side. He was part of Virginia Tech records in the 400 Freestyle Relay, 200 Medley Relay, 400 Medley Relay, 100 Freestyle, and 400 Freestyle Relay. His 100 Butterfly time of 44.08 is the new ACC record.