The Virginia women’s swimming team just wrapped up their seventh-consecutive ACC Championship in February, but winning another conference title wasn't their main focus this season.
The Cavaliers begin swimming at the NCAA Championships Thursday in Minneapolis, Minn. The meet runs Thursday-Saturday with prelims at 12 p.m. and finals at 8 p.m. each day. It's a meet they’ve been talking about and looking forward to since day one of their training for this season.
"I think there's always been a focus here on NCAAs, we just maybe are paying more lip service to it," said UVa swimming coach Augie Busch.
The 'Hoos first-year head coach hasn't just been talking about NCAAs with his team, he's geared their training toward success at their final meet.
"I feel like we've done a lot more racing, drill work, and technique work this year," said sophomore Courtney Bartholomew, who will swim the 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, and 200 individual medley this week. "I think that we all have improved on our strokes and just made it a little bit more technical."
"We do a lot of fast, race-paced stuff even in distance group, so I never lose what it feels like to go fast," said freshman Leah Smith, who is scheduled to compete in the 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, and 1,650 freestyle. "It's definitely a really exciting time, and it's cool to be a part of this."
With all the excitement surrounding the National Championship meet, Busch has made sure to keep his team grounded.
"This is a meet, it's 25 yards, it's the same eight lanes," he said. "It's something they've done thousands of times in their careers."
The Cavaliers, who head into the meet ranked No. 7 in the country, do have their eyes on program history. UVa’s best team finish at NCAAs is seventh, so one of their goals is trying to finish in the top six.
"I think we're all really confident going into this," Bartholomew said. "We've all bought into Augie's system, and I think we're all ready to taper and swim fast."
"We're pretty confident that we can probably get one of the highest finishes that Virginia's ever had at NCAAs," added Smith. "I'm just really excited to finally swim and be a part of that."