2021 Women’s ACC Championships Fan Guide: Virginia Favored to Defend Title

2021 Women’s ACC Championships

  • When: Wednesday, February 17th – Saturday, February 20th | Prelims: 11:00 am | Finals: 7:00 pm (EST) (Except Wednesday’s timed finals, which begin at 5:15 EST)
  • Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center, Greensboro, NC
  • Defending Champion: University of Virginia (x1) (results)
  • Format: 25 Yards/Short Course Yards (SCY)
  • Championship Central: Here
  • Championship Manual
  • Live Results
  • Psych Sheets (uncut)

The University of Virginia was dominant at the 2020 ACC Championships, winning the meet and setting the record for the most team points ever scored at the meet. A lot has happened in the last year as the COVID-19 pandemic has up-ended life as we know it, and the 2021 ACC Championships will reflect some of those changes (more on that shortly), though the Virginia women remain the dominant force in the ACC.

Despite Virginia’s top-end speed and depth, 2020 runners-up NC State will make it a dogfight, especially in the sprints. Meanwhile, Louisville, North Carolina, Duke, and Florida State will battle it out for 3rd through 6th. Other teams with less depth nonetheless have high likelihoods of picking up medals and possibly a few event victories–Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and Miami, in particular.

COVID-19 Protocols

3,000 fans attended the 2021 Super Bowl, a mere 4.5% of the total stadium capacity. The Greensboro Aquatic Center, however, will not allow any spectators at the 2021 ACC Championships–the men’s competition the following weekend will also be spectator-free. Accordingly, merchandise and concessions will not be sold at the meet.

Diving prelims will take place in the morning at the same time as swimming prelims, though diving finals will take place in the afternoons before swimming finals begin.

In lieu of spectators, teams will be seated in the grand stands in order to keep the pool deck clear. COVID testing will be provided to all team members and coaches by the ACC before the meet, though the frequency of testing has not yet been determined.

Furthermore, warmups will be altered as only 4 swimmers will be allowed per-lane at a time. While this will not have any bearing on fans (who will have to watch from home) it has changed the logistics of team practices in the days before the meet begins, creating an extra difficult pool puzzle for GAC staff and team coaches and managers.

Event Schedule


  • Men’s 1-meter (prelims 11:00 am – 1:30 pm; finals 2:00 – 2:40 pm)
  • Women’s 3-meter (prelims 11:00 am – 1:30 pm; finals 3:10 – 3:50 pm)
  • 200 Medley Relay
  • 800 Free Relay


  • Women’s 1-meter (prelims 11:30 am – 2:00 pm; finals 2:30 pm 3:10 pm)
  • Men’s 3-meter (prelims 11:30 am – 2:00 pm; finals 3:40 pm – 4:20 pm)
  • 500 Freestyle
  • 200 Individual Medley
  • 50 Freestyle
  • –40 Minute Break–
  • 200 Freestyle Relay


  • Women’s Platform (prelims 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm; final 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm)
  • 100 Butterfly
  • 400 Individual Medley
  • 200 Freestyle
  • 100 Breaststroke
  • 100 Backstroke
  • –40 Minute Break–
  • 400 Medley Relay


  • Men’s Platform (prelims 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm; finals 3:00 pm – 3:40 pm)
  • 1650 Freestyle
  • 200 Backstroke
  • 100 Freestyle
  • 200 Breaststroke
  • 200 Butterfly
  • –40 Minute Break–
  • 400 Freestyle Relay


Virginia  Kate Douglass (sophomore; free, fly, breast, IM), Paige Madden (senior; free, back), Jessica Nava (senior; fly, free), Alex Walsh (freshman; free, breast, IM), Alexis Wenger (junior; breast), Ella Nelson (sophomore; breast, IM), Anna Keating (freshman; breast, IM), Caroline Gmelich (junior; free, fly, back), Abby Harter (freshman; fly, IM, free), Julia Menkhaus (junior; free, fly, IM), Maddie Donohoe (sophomore; free, IM, back). Kate Douglass is not just the most dominant swimmer in the ACC so far this season, but the most dominant in the NCAA. Douglass leads the nation in 5 events (50 free, 100 free, 100 fly, 200 IM, and 200 breaststroke) and is within striking distance of the American Records in the 100 fly, 200 IM, and 200 breaststroke. At ACCs, Douglass is most likely to swim the 200 IM, 100 fly, and 100 freestyle as UVA has a cohort of women that could final in the 200 breast at both ACCs and NCAAs. Alex Walsh, Ella Nelson, Alexis Wenger, and Anna Keating, are all potential ‘A’ finalists in the 200 breaststroke, and Walsh, Nelson, and Wenger all have a high probability of making the top-8 in the 100 breaststroke as well.

UVA is not just stacked in breaststroke, but will be the team to beat in the 400 free relay, 800 free relay, and 400 medley relay, and will pose a threat to NC State in the 200 free and 200 medley relays. Butterflyers Jessica Nava, Caroline Gmelich, and Abby Harter could be ‘A’ finalists in the 100 and 200 fly, with Gmelich also posing a threat in the 100 and 200 backstroke. Paige Madden, the 2020 Female ACC Swimmer of the Year, is entered in the 200 free, 500 free, 1650 free, and 200 back, though she is most likely to swim only freestyle as she is the defending ACC champion in the 200, 500, and mile. Madden is backed up in the distance free by Maddie Donohoe, who placed 4th in the 1650 in 2020. Douglass is UVA’s best sprint freestyler, though she is backed up by Walsh, Nava, Gmelich, and freshman Lexi Cuomo.

NC State Kylee Alons (junior; free, back, fly), Katharine Berkoff (sophomore; back, free, IM), Sophie Hansson (junior; breast, free, IM), Kate Moore (senior; free, back, IM), Emma Muzzy (junior; back, IM), Julia Poole (senior; IM, breast, free), Sirena Rowe (senior; sprint free, fly, back), Olivia Calegan (senior; breast). NC State will return strong in almost every event, especially backstroke where Katharine Berkoff and Emma Muzzy are favorites to win the 100 and 200 backstroke, respectively. Muzzy is the two-time defending champion in the 200 back while Berkoff has the top time in the NCAA in the 100, and is more than 1.4 seconds ahead of the next-fastest swimmer in the ACC.

Sophie Hansson is the two-time defending champ in the 100 and 200 breast, meanwhile Kate Moore is the defending champion in the 400 IM and a medalist in the 500 freestyle and 1650 free. Olivia Calegan will complement Hansson in the breaststroke. Kylee Alons and Sirena Rowe are two of the fastest 50-yard swimmers in the ACC and will be valuable as both individual racers and on relays. NC State is unlikely to upset Virginia at this year’s ACC Championships, but they remain the heavy favorite for team runners-up, and will have a major presence on the podium.

Louisville Alena Kraus (junior; free, fly, IM), Tristen Ulett (freshman; fly, back, free), Maria Sumida (junior; free, IM, fly), Christiana Regenauer (sophomore; free, fly). Alena Kraus and Maria Sumida return as two of Louisville’s top scorers from 2020 and represent two of the Cardinals’ best chances for podium-finishes. Kraus is a potential ‘A’ finalist in the 100 fly, 200 fly, and 200 free, while Sumida and Abby Hay have posted big times in the 400 IM and will threaten to put two Cardinals in the ‘A’ final in that event. Kraus, alongside sophomore Christiana Regenauer freshman Tristen Ulett, will be a major part of Louisville’s relays. Individually, Ulett could score in the 100 fly, free, or back, as well as the 200 fly or potentially the 200 IM, depending on what she races.

Louisville will be missing two of its most valuable team members from 2020: Arina Openysheva and Mariia Astashkina. We highlight Openysheva and Astashkina because they were juniors in 2020, as well as significant point-scorers for Louisville, especially Openysheva, who both made the ‘A’ final in the 50, 100, 200 freestyles and was a major part of Louisville’s 200, 400, and 800 free relays.

Virginia Tech Joelle Vereb (senior; free, back, breast), Loulou Vos (junior; free), Chase Travis (freshman; free, fly), Sarah Shackelford (sophomore; free), Reka Gyorgy (senior; free, IM, fly), Brooke Travis (sophomore; free), Caroline Bentz (freshman; back, free, IM), Emma Atkinson (freshman; back, free, fly). Virginia Tech has a strong freshman class that could make an huge impact on the team’s performance and final standing at the 2021 ACC Championships. Emma Atkinson and Caroline Bentz could break into the ‘A’ finals in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes, while Brooke Travis and Chase Travis could each net significant points in the distance freestyles.

Joelle Vereb, Sarah Shackelford, Abby Larson, Reka Gyorgy, and Bentz will likely be highly-utilized on VT’s relays, in addition to their individual event schedules. Gyorgy, who is returning from an Olympic red shirt season in 2019-2020, could make the podium in both the 400 IM and the 500 freestyle–the 500 is arguably VT’s most stacked event as the Hokies have 5 swimmers currently ranked in the top-16 in the event in the ACC. Vereb is a multi-event threat that can swim breast, fly, and free at an elite level a returning ‘A’ finalist in the 50 free and 100 fly.

UNC Emma Cole (junior; free, fly), Grace Countie (junior; free, back), Lillian Higgs (junior; breast, IM), Sophie Lindner (junior; free, fly, back), Heidi Lowe (junior; free, back). UNC will bring a sprint-forward group to Greensboro this year with a star-studded junior class leading the team. Emma Cole, Grace Countie, and Sophie Lindner are all strong 50 and 100 freestylers as well as good 100 stroke swimmers; Cole and Lindner are UNC’s top butterflyers, while Countie and Lindner are among the ACC’s best sprint backstrokers. Heidi Lowe will also complement UNC’s relays and represent a potential finals berth in the 100 backstroke.

Notre Dame Coleen Gillilan (sophomore; fly, breast, IM), Madeline LaPorte (junior; free), Luciana Thomas (junior; free, fly, IM), Carly Quast (senior; back, free), Samantha Eyolfson (junior; free, IM), Bayley Stewart (junior; back, IM). The Irish are a rising star in the ACC and will look to build off their 5th-place finish at the 2020 ACC Champs. Sophomore Coleen Gillilan will once again play a major role for the Irish; in 2020, Gillilan placed 3rd in the 200 fly, 6th in the 200 IM, and 8th in the 100 fly. Gillalan also contributed vital legs to Notre Dame’s freestyle and medley relays, the latter of which she swam the breaststroke legs instead of fly. Junior Luciana Thomas is another returning 3-time ‘A’ finalist from 2020 and currently ranks within the top-8 in the ACC in the 200 fly and 400 IM, and 9th in the 500. Junior Bayley Stewart is a returning ‘A’ finalist in the 200 backstroke and a potential point-scorer in the 100 back and 200 IM. The Irish will also benefit from Annie Wiese on the boards; Wiese placed 6th on the 3-meter board in 2020.

Florida State Phoebe Griffiths (freshman; free), Maggie Emary (junior; free, IM), Sydney Cole (freshman; free, IM), Jenny Halden (freshman; free, fly, back), Emma Terebo (senior; free, back), Kertu Alnek (junior; sprint free). FSU returns sprinters Kertu Alnket and Emma Terebo, as well as distance swimmer Maggie Emary. Freshman Sydney Cole, Phoebe Griffiths, and Jenny Halden will buoy FSU’s sprint corps and likely be utilized on the relays where the Seminoles stand their best chance of bringing in significant points (not only because relays are worth double).

FSU will miss Molly Carlson, the 2020 ACC Women’s Diver of the Meet, who graduated last year and was a major asset to the ‘Noles, as well as Ayla Bonniwell, the runner-up on the 3-meter board, though FSU will bring four freshman divers to the party this year. FSU will also miss Nina Kucheran and Ida Hulkko, both major contributors to the Seminoles in 2020.

Duke Aliyah Watson (sophomore; diving), Sarah Foley (freshman; IM, fly), Quinn Scannell (senior; free), Catherine Purnell (freshman; free, IM), Cabell Whitlow (junior; fly, IM), Emma Shupert (sophomore; back, free), Constance Dean (senior; IM, free), Shayna Hollander (junior; free, back). Duke’s is a young team with large freshman and sophomore classes, though veterans Quinn Scannell and Constance Dean are each potential multi-event finalists. Duke should still be able to put together strong relays, though standouts such as Alyssa Marsh (graduated) and Melissa Pish (not entered) will be difficult to replace. Aliyah Watson will represent Duke on the boards and was the 2020 bronze medalist on the platform as a freshman.

Georgia Tech Cami Hidalgo (senior; diving) Morgan Johnson (junior; free), Mackenzie Campbell (sophomore; free, fly, IM). Georgia Tech will draw the majority of its strength from diving where it will have 6 competitors on the boards and platform. Cami Hidalgo was the 2020 ACC Champion on the 1-meter board, the runner-up on the platform, and the 5th-place finisher on the 3-meter board. Georgia Tech did not have any other finalist in diving in 2020, but with 6 divers on the boards they have numbers. Morgan Johnson and Mackenzie Campbell are strong distance freestylers and GT’s greatest chance of individual ‘A’ finalists in the pool.

Miami Emma Sundstrand (freshman; breast, IM), Savannah Barr (freshman; free, fly), Aino Otava (sophomore; free, fly, IM). Miami’s underclassmen Sundstrand, Barr, and Otava are all likely to make ‘B’ or ‘C’ finals in their best events at the 2021 ACC Championships, though it would be an outside shot for them to make an ‘A’ final in any race. Miami will also have 3 divers competing.

Pittsburgh Abby Grottle (freshman; free), Jacqueline Tinneny (junior; free, IM), Amy Read (junior; diving). Pitt could land a swimmer in the ‘A’ final of the 1650 in the form of freshman Abby Grottle or Jacqueline Tinneny, while Amy Read is a top-8 returning diver who could potentially end the meet as Pitt’s top point-scorer. Including Read, Pitt will have 5 divers.

Boston College Katie Drumm (freshman; free, fly), Haley Dolan (junior; free, back), Mary Gannon (sophomore; free, fly). Boston College is unlikely to put any swimmers in an ‘A’ final, though they could have a swimmer in a ‘C’ or ‘B’ final or two. Still, their likely to remain in the 12th position in the ACC.


400 IM: Ella Nelson (UVA) and Kate Moore (NC State) placed 1-2 in 2020 and will square off again in 2021. Both swimmers have similar season best times–4:05.02 for Nelson and 4:05.61 for Moore. Reka Gyorgy returns after a red shirt season for Virginia Tech to make things even more interesting, and Emma Muzzy, the two-time 200 backstroke champion from NC State, has also been an ‘A’ finalist in this race the past two seasons. Though the race will likely be a showdown between Nelson and Moore, Gyorgy and Muzzy ought to make it interesting and could surprise.

200 Breast: Sophie Hansson, NC State’s two-time and defending champion in this race, was nearly ran down by UVA’s Ella Nelson in 2020, as well as UVA phenom Kate Douglass. Douglass has the fastest time in the nation so far this season, but assuming she does not swim the 200 breast at ACCs, the door is open for either Hansson, Nelson, or UVA’s Alexis Wenger, Alex Walsh, or NC State’s Andrea Podmanikova to find a spot on the podium. If Douglass elects to swim another event, it’s hard to bet against Hansson, though Nelson made it a very close race in 2020, and Wenger, Walsh, or Podmanikova could do the same this year.

100 Back: There are multiple US National Teamers entered in this race, led by a resurgent Katharine Berkoff of NC State. If the Wolfpack have any chance of pulling an upset in the team battle, they really need a high (even a 1-2?) finish from Berkoff and Kylee Alons in this 100 back. Virginia will fight back with another US National Teamer, Alex Walsh, who enters as the 3rd seed. Walsh has a ton of high seeds, and we don’t really know which events she’s going to swim yet, but if Walsh doesn’t swim the 100 back, the Cavaliers become very thin in that event. That’s certainly a bigger area of need for them than her other day 3 possibilities: the 200 free and the 100 breaststroke.


Unlike the NCAA Championships, the ACC Championships swims and scores ‘C’ finals, so the top-24 swimmers score points with individual event champions pulling in a whopping 32 points. Relays, meanwhile, score double, though each team only gets to score one relay.

Virginia is the heavy favorite to repeat as team champion, while NC State and Louisville are projected to defend their 2nd and 3rd place finishes, respectively. Virginia is likely to win all 5 relays, but even if NC State or Louisville could pull an upset, the team scores are unlikely to be affected significantly.

Swimulator uses in-season rankings to determine its scoring outcomes and does not factor diving into its final scores. As diving was not factored into the Swimulator score, there is a chance that Georgia Tech will surpass Duke in the final team standings, though it could be a long-shot for the Yellow Jackets. Florida State and Duke are missing major point-scorers from their 2020 teams, meanwhile Notre Dame seems to have grown stronger, though so has Virginia Tech.

Swimulator Rankings

Rank Team Score (Projected)
1 Virginia 1336.5*
2 NC State 1191.5
3 Louisville 908
4 Virginia Tech 705
5 UNC 616
6 Notre Dame 553
7 Florida State 508
8 Duke 448.5
9 Georgia Tech 295
10 Miami (FL) 243.5
11 Pittsburgh 132
12 Boston College 80

*Note – this includes Emma Weyant’s results, who is sitting out this collegiate season, likely because Virginia included her on the official roster submitted to the NCAA. The Swimulator currently scores Weyant at 77 points. The counter-punch to this is that Virginia still hasn’t raced an 800 free relay this season, which means that they still are seeded well ahead of the rest of the conference.

SwimSwam Picks

  1. Virginia
  2. NC State
  3. Louisville
  4. Virginia Tech
  5. UNC
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Florida State
  8. Duke
  9. Georgia Tech
  10. Miami (FL)
  11. Pittsburgh
  12. Boston College

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2 years ago

abby grottle transferred to texas a&m

Reply to  super
2 years ago

She sure did! 3 months after this article was written…

3 years ago

UNC just released a statement about sending a smaller roster due to a rise in covid cases. Wonder how this will impact the meet.

Reply to  swimmmmmmmmerrrrr
3 years ago


3 years ago

Here are last years results:
1. UVA: 1492.5
2. NC State: 1333.5
3. Louisville: 1105.5
4. UNC: 839
5. ND: 784
6. Duke: 675.5
7. Florida St: 555
8. VT: 469
9. GT: 407.5
10. Pitt: 358.5
11. Miami: 298
12. BC: 164

I think the top 3 are a given, barring athletes missing or multiple relay DQs. UNC, ND, and VT looked to have a decent gap over the next teams. UNC returns more points and should be able to hold off ND. I think VT will improve to sixth, jumping Duke and FSU but I am not putting them in front of UNC and ND yet.… Read more »

Swim fan
3 years ago

How do I watch

Reply to  Swim fan
3 years ago

ACC network i believe

Reply to  Swim fan
3 years ago

With your eyes, usually…

3 years ago

This says UVA might challenge NCST in the two 200-yd relays. But I’m pretty sure UVa has held the fastest time in the country the last 2 yrs in the 200 medley relay.

Reply to  Swimgeek
3 years ago

This relay should be the best race of the meet. They should be top 2 at NCAAs

3 years ago

This will be the Kate Douglass show in whatever she swims

Last edited 3 years ago by swimfast
3 years ago

If you have to spread people out during warm up, Greensboro is the pool to do it in with 53 SCY lanes available if they can use the full facility. I bet the ACC is thankful they had a contract for the facility. Looking forward to a fast meet!

3 years ago

Let’s just take a moment and appreciate the following:

  1. We have a conference meet during Covid times.
  2. We have a conference meet with 12 teams. In a time of cutting sports, let’s appreciate what the ACC programs are offering our sport.

Good luck to all!

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six with the Clay Center Tiger Sharks, a summer league team. At age 14 he began swimming club year-round with the Manhattan Marlins (Manhattan, KS), which took some convincing from his mother as he was very …

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