“When we started on September 1st, who knew if we were going to finish? Who know if we were going to even get to September 7th? That loss of guarantee, that loss of certainty, has really put a good perspective forward for us.”-Head Swimming Coach Andy Kershaw
Time to Finish
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The only thing better than starting a race?
That was head swimming coach Andy Kershaw’s message to his team on Tuesday afternoon, one day before the Hurricanes opened up their four-day run at the Greensboro Aquatic Center for the 2021 ACC Swimming & Diving Championships.
“We were so excited to start. When we got together for the first time back in September, it was exciting to be a team again,” Kershaw said. “The time away, when we couldn’t be together, is what led us to that excitement. Now we’re at the finish.”
Though COVID-19 has caused frustration for student-athletes and coaches alike, Kershaw said there was a silver lining to the pandemic that he hopes his team draws from this week.
Now, the Hurricanes are set on ending their season with the same type of momentum they built in the latter half of the year.
Just last weekend, Hurricanes swimmers enjoyed nine lifetime bests out of 13 possible swims at the First Chance Meet against FIU. Among the impressive times were freshman Emma Sundstrand’s 1:00.31 in the 100-yard breaststroke – the second-fastest time in school history – as well as sophomore Andrea Todorovic’s time of 55.89 in the 100-yard backstroke, the ninth-fastest in UM history.
And while Kershaw said he has been impressed by both Sundstrand and fellow freshman Savannah Barr, it’s the depth with which the Hurricanes enter the postseason that has Kershaw the most excited.
“There are a lot of people when you talk about the middle classes of our team – the juniors and sophomores…we’ve been seeing them doing it in practice, but seeing them step up into the box and proving it can be done, that’s huge for us,” Kershaw said. “And moving on up to the seniors, they’re the ones, I told the team this, when we went to the pool, they were the most relaxed. The most confident, the most eager, the most carefree. There’s a reason for that – they have the most experience. They’ve been through the most. We’ll need everyone to follow their lead, and that’s what will lead to success.”
Head diving coach Randy Ableman sees parallels with his women’s diving contingent. Second-year diver Mia Vallée looks poised to impress on the springboard in Greensboro, as does veteran co-captain Millie Haffety.
“Mia has set herself up for a really nice performance this week and leading into the NCAAs,” Ableman said. “You never know how it’s going to shake out, but she is diving well and is confident. I think she’s going to have a really good week.”
For Ableman, the difference in form from a year ago for both Vallée and Haffety is substantial.
“Millie is at such a better point than she was last year. Her technique is better, her fitness is better. She really needs to do well in a big meet like this to build her confidence,” Ableman said. “She needs something good to happen. In practice, she looks great. In a lot of our dual meets, she would look great. Now she has to do it on a bigger stage and she’ll be on her way. Like Mia, she’s done really well in preparing for this meet and I’m looking forward to seeing her break through here.”
Similar to Miami’s swimming contingent, the Hurricanes women’s divers entered last year’s trip to Greensboro with lofty goals. Miami’s men’s diving quartet – comprised of co-captain Zach Cooper, second-year divers Max Flory and Brodie Scapens and mid-year arrival Jack Matthews – enters the competition on the mend but looking to repeat historic success.
A year ago, Cooper, Flory, Scapens and senior David Dinsmore captured the top-four spots in the men’s platform for the first time at the ACC Championships since 2000.
Flory and Matthews, along with second-year platform diver Jessie Creed, will battle through injuries over the course of the week.
“Zach looks tremendous on 10-meter. He’s going to have a great meet and going to have a great NCAAs. He has set himself up well. He has the right attitude and he’s better than he was a year ago. I feel great about where he’s at,” Ableman said. “Brodie, same thing. He’s healthy. He has really improved on springboard. He’s going to be a threat here in all three events has become the diver I thought he could be when I recruited him. The kids that are healthy, they look ready to go and have a good week.”
The first week of the ACC Swimming & Diving Championships will be streamed on ACC Network Extra, with coverage of both the preliminaries and the finals.
The ACC Women’s Swimming and Diving and Men’s Diving Championships are scheduled for Feb. 17- 20 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Streaming will begin at 11 a.m. each day, with coverage continuing to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, and 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
ACC Network Extra (ACCNX) is available on the ESPN App to ACC Network authenticated subscribers. For more information on ACCN please visit www.GetACCN.com
ACC Network Extra Schedule
Wednesday Feb. 17 | 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. | ACC Network Extra
Thursday, Feb. 18 | 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. | ACC Network Extra
Friday, Feb. 19 | 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. | ACC Network Extra
Saturday, Feb. 20 | 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. | ACC Network Extra