Blagg, Herrera Capture Gold Medals on Day 1
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The University of Miami got off to a dream start at the ACC Swimming & Diving Championships Wednesday night, earning two gold medals in diving action on the first day of competition from the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
Redshirt senior Briadam Herrera captured the fifth gold medal of his impressive career by winning the title in the men’s 1-meter springboard, while redshirt sophomore Alicia Blagg followed him by defending her ACC crown in the women’s 3-meter springboard.
Herrera blew away the competition, scoring a whopping 433.20 points to outpace second-place finisher Joshua Davidson of Florida State (367.00).
“I felt great tonight. I had a lot of energy going into the finals and had my plan together for each dive, and everything went well at the end,” Herrera said. “It feels great to have won another title, and I’m excited for tomorrow’s [3-meter]. Hopefully I can grab another one.”
For Blagg – who had a partially torn ligament in her wrist that put her out of action for a month near the winter holidays – winning the second ACC gold medal of her career was similarly rewarding. Blagg took first with a score of 366.20, besting Sydney Dusel of Virginia (335.90), who took second.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” Blagg said about her win. “This means so much to me. It was a rough start to the season with the wrist injury, just a stressful time. To be able to come here and, even though I didn’t dive the best of my abilities…I’m so happy.”
In between the lanes, Miami’s entry in the 200-yard medley relay finished with a time of 1:41.62 while its 800-yard freestyle relay team touched the wall in 7:18.69.
Of the eight individual legs across the two events, five Hurricanes combined to post six of their best performances ever: freshmen Zorry Mason (200 medley) and Maddie Lauther (200 medley), sophomores Sydney Knapp (both events) and Carmen San Nicolas (800 medley) and junior Claire McGinnis (800 medley).
“We aren’t built with 50-yard stroke specialists, so we knew the 200 medley would be a weaker event,” head swimming coach Andy Kershaw said. “We’ve focused more on 100-yard and 200-yard strokes. The energy tonight was great. We’re looking forward to throwing down some great swims tomorrow morning.”
After redshirting last season, Herrera said he was excited to add to his trophy collection. The Havana, Cuba native swept the two springboard events in both his freshman (2015) and sophomore (2016) seasons but came up short as a junior (2017), taking silver in both.
“I’m very happy with the win,” he said. “The year before I redshirted, I wasn’t able to win the championship in either 1-meter or 3-meter, so it feels good to reclaim the title my last year.”
Blagg said that during warmups for the final round, she felt the night might have a special outcome.
“I felt good. I was in a great mindset. I felt, ‘this is my time. I’m going to do it. I’m going to put on a good show and do what I can do,'” she said.
For Blagg, the opportunity to compete together with Herrera for the first time ever at the ACC Championships made the night even more memorable.
“It was great. To be able to get on the podium and be number one alongside Briadam, who put on an amazing performance, it’s awesome,” Blagg said. It’s what the Hurricanes do.”