2024 ACC Women’s Champs Preview: Fun Battles Forecasted Behind Powerhouse Virginia

by Riley Overend 29

February 19th, 2024 ACC, College, News, Previews & Recaps

2024 ACC Swimming and Diving Championships



  • 200 medley relay
  • 800 free relay
  • Women’s 3-meter
  • Men’s 1-meter


  • 200 free relay
  • 500 free
  • 200 IM
  • 50 Free
  • Women’s 1-meter


  • 400 IM
  • 100 Fly
  • 200 Free
  • Men’s 3-meter


  • 200 fly
  • 100 back
  • 100 breast
  • Women’s Platform
  • 400 medley relay


  • 1650 free
  • 200 back
  • 100 free
  • 200 breast
  • Men’s Platform
  • 400 free relay


  1. Virginia – 1,536 
  2. NC State – 1,272
  3. Louisville – 1,077.5
  4. North Carolina – 813
  5. Duke – 718.5
  6. Virginia Tech – 654
  7. Florida State – 586
  8. Notre Dame – 539
  9. Georgia Tech – 388
  10. Miami – 382
  11. Pitt – 315
  12. Boston College – 179

After NC State came just 71.5 points shy of Virginia at the 2022 ACC Championships, the  Cavaliers returned to their dominant ways by more than tripling their margin of victory over the Wolfpack last year.

Despite Virginia losing the best swimmer in the history of its program — do-it-all star Kate Douglass — head coach Todd DeSorbo’s dynasty is showing no signs of slowing down. The Cavaliers replaced Douglass (96 points), Lexi Cuomo (63 points), and Claire Tuggle (64 points) with Northwestern transfer Jasmine Nocentini, No. 4 recruit Cavan Gormsen, and No. 5 recruit Tess Howley, leaving Virginia comfortably positioned for a five-peat at the 2024 ACC Championships. 

Although there’s not a ton of doubt who will take home the title this year, the battles for 2nd and 4th place are shaping up to be exciting showdowns. Louisville has the depth to surpass NC State in the ACC standings for the first time in six years, but fifth-year Katharine Berkoff & Co. won’t let their streak die without a fight. Meanwhile, Duke’s young core might be mature enough to finally carry the Blue Devils past in-state rival North Carolina.


BOSTON COLLEGE – The Eagle women broke four school records at ACCs last year, highlighted by a B-final appearance from USC transfer Adair Sand in the 200 backstroke (1:57.98) and a C-final showing from fellow junior Giovanna Baldacci in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.34). However, their momentum was halted last fall when the program was hit with a season-long suspension for hazing that resulted in the departure of BC’s new coaching staff. That means the Eagles won’t be at ACCs this year, but at least the good news is their streak of last-place finishes will be snapped.

DUKE – The Blue Devils took a leap forward last year from one A-finalist in the pool to five, led by three-event threat Sarah Foley. After scoring 80 points as a junior with top-4 finishes in the 200 IM (1:54.12), 400 IM (4:06.25), and 200 breast (2:06.81), she’s back for her senior campaign in Durham — which could be her last as she entered the transfer portal to explore options for her fifth year of eligibility. Foley foreshadowed a potential event lineup change at the NC State Invitational last November, placing 2nd in the 200 free (1:45.67) along with a runner-up finish in the 200 IM (1:56.13). Her season-best 400 IM (4:20.72) is only ranked 33rd in the 400 IM among ACC swimmers compared to 4th in the 200 IM and 12th in the 200 breast. 

Fellow seniors Catherine Purnell and Catherine Belyakov also made A-finals last year in the 400 IM (4:12.08) and 200 IM (1:57.84), respectively. Although Duke is at risk of losing Foley, Purnell, and Belyakov next season, they boast a strong young core led by sophomores Kaelyn Gridley and Martina Peroni. The former top recruits made an immediate impact last season, combining for 93 points at their first ACC Championships. Gridley shined at November’s NC State Invitational with wins in the 100 breast (58.74) and 200 breast (2:06.92), the former in a new lifetime best. Meanwhile, Peroni leads the ACC in the 200 fly with her season-best 1:54.01 from last month’s dual meet vs. Texas.

The Blue Devils are in their first season under former NC State associate head coach Brian Barnes, who was hired last May after former Duke head coach Dan Colella died in December of 2022. Keep an eye on freshman Ali Pfaff for a breakout performance as she’s currently ranked 15th nationally in the 200 back (season-best 1:53.48) and 24th in the 100 back (52.12). Aleyna Ozkan could make noise, too, currently ranked 6th in the ACC in the 100 fly (51.82) and 200 fly 

FLORIDA STATE – Senior diver Samantha Vear is back after leading the Seminoles with 52 individual points last season. FSU junior Edith Jernstedt is aiming to make her third consecutive A-final in the 200 fly while junior Maddy Huggins is looking to make her first A-final appearance this season. Huggins dropped more than a second in the 100 breast (58.76) and half a second in the 200 breast (2:09.08) at the Georgia Invitational, which rank 3rd and 7th in the ACC this season, respectively. 

Julia Mansson and Sophie Freeman also weren’t far from A-final territory as freshmen last year with 11th-place efforts in the 200 breast (2:10.74) and 200 fly (1:57.47), respectively. 

GEORGIA TECH – The Yellowjackets lost one of their best recruits in recent history, Deniz Ertan, to Arizona State over the offseason. It’ll be tough to replace all 84 points that she put up as a freshman last year, but there is another budding star breaking out in Atlanta. Georgia Tech freshman Sabyne Brisson ranks 5th in the ACC in both the 100 breast (59.08) and 200 breast (2:08.34) after blazing best times at November’s Georgia Invitational. 

Senior diver Anna Bradescu also brings back her 41 points, and fifth-year McKenzie Campbell opted to return for her final collegiate season with 30 points from her 12th-place finishes in the 200 fly (1:57.73) and 400 IM (4:13.65) last year. 

LOUISVILLE – This might be the year the Cardinals finally catch NC State for 2nd place in the ACC standings as they return all 19 of their conference scorers from last season. Their stable of veterans is led by senior Gabi Albiero, who placed 2nd in the 50 free (21.36), 3rd in the 100 fly (50.04), and 4th in the 100 free (47.06) for a team-high 81 points at ACCs last season. She’s positioning herself for a similar showing this year, ranked 4th in the 50 free (21.75), 2nd in the 100 fly (50.83), and 4th in the 100 free (47.67) among ACC swimmers this season.

Louisville got great news last offseason when Abby Hay and Christiana Regenauer announced their returns for fifth years. They are both three-event threats who combined for 156 ACC points last year. Hay placed 2nd in the 200 fly (1:53.51), 3rd in the 400 IM (4:05.23), and 5th in the 200 IM (1:55.48) for 80 points while Regenauer placed 3rd in the 50 free (21.58), 5th in the 100 free (47.47), and 6th in the 100 fly (51.03) for 76 points. Hay is ranked 3rd in the 200 fly (1:54.83), 4th in the 400 IM (4:09.42), and 5th in the 200 IM (1:56.79) among ACC swimmers this season while Regenauer is ranked 5th in the 50 free (21.93), 5th in the 100 free (47.73), and 8th in the 100 fly (52.11). 

The Cardinals boast tons of depth as they also bring back their top two divers, senior diver Else Praasterink (70 points) and junior Lindsay Gizzi (58 points), who totaled 128 points at ACCs last year. Additionally, seniors Paige Hetrick (200 free and 200 back) and Tristen Ulett (100 fly and 200 fly) made multiple A-finals for Louisville last year en route to 130 total points. All the pieces are in place for a big taper performance by the Cardinals in Arthur Albiero’s 21st season at the helm of the program. 

Miami – The Hurricanes face an uphill battle after losing their top three ACC scorers — senior Mia Vallee (56 points), breaststroker Tara Vovk (53 points), and Zorry Mason (33 points) — who combined for 142 of their 192 individual points. Vallee is one of three Miami divers redshirting this season to train for the Paris 2024 Olympics along with junior Chiara Pellacani and redshirt sophomore Emma Gullstrand

That will be stemmed by the addition of Talia Bates, a transfer from the University of Florida who is using her 5th year of eligibility with the Hurricanes. She was 4th at SECs last year in the 200 free, though she hasn’t yet been as fast with her new program as she was with her old one.

Miami will need senior distance specialist Adrianna Cera and junior breaststroker Giulia Carvalho to step up in a big way at ACCs this year. Cera placed 16th in both the 500 free (4:50.18) and 1650 free (16:38.57) last year, and she was within half a second of her best 500 free time from 2022 with a 4:47.84 last month. 

Carvalho placed 16th in the 200 breast (2:13.30) last year, but she’s been even faster this season. She clocked a personal-best 2:12.61 at the SMU Invitational last November. Carvalho also ranks 5th in the ACC in the 100 fly (51.51) this season.

NC STATEKatharine Berkoff once again proved she’s one of the top swimmers in the country last month with a 49.82 100 back vs. Texas, making her the second-fastest dual meet performer ever behind only Gretchen Walsh’s nation-leading 48.77 (unsuited) from last month. After scoring a team-high 85 points at ACCs last year, the fifth-year should have another huge showing at her final conference meet as she’s currently ranked 2nd in the 100 back (49.82), 3rd in the 100 free (47.18), and 3rd in the 50 free (21.52) among ACC swimmers this season.

However, the loss of five key contributors over the offseason has left the Wolfpack at risk of falling to 3rd place behind Louisville and Virginia for the first time since 2018. NC State’s 178-point dual meet loss to the Cavaliers last month — almost twice the gap of last year’s matchup — was not a promising marker.

Between senior Abby Arens (200 fly champion), sophomore Kennedy Noble (200 back champion), and junior Grace Sheble (400 IM runner-up), the Wolfpack boast a strong supporting cast behind Berkoff. However, they lack the same depth as years past without Kylee Alons (70 points), Emma Muzzy (56 points), Heather MacCausland (55 points), Abbey Webb (55 points), and Andrea Podmanikova (53 points) on the roster anymore. Their absences created a gap in the breaststroke department that could be filled by Abby Arens if she switches around her event lineup from her typical 100 fly/200 fly/200 IM, but NC State may turn to sophomore Aubree Brouwer to step up. Brouwer is only ranked 30th in the 100 breast (1:01.80) and 28th in the 200 breast (2:14.78) among ACC swimmers this season.

Wolfpack sophomore Emma Hastings could be on the verge of her first podium finish. She’s ranked 2nd in the 1650 free this season at 16:11.18 after placing 4th in the mile (16:08.90) and 6th in the 500 free (4:41.26) en route to 50 points at her first ACCs last year.

NORTH CAROLINA – The Tar Heels might still boast the best diving squad in the conference as long as senior NCAA champion Aranza Vazquez (96 points) remains at the forefront along with sophomore Haley Marshall (40 points). Vazquez swept the 1-meter, 3-meter, and platform at ACCs last year before going on to capture NCAA crowns on the 1-meter and 3-meter. However, UNC’s diving group did take a hit this season with the departures of Emily Grund (75 points) and Paige Burrell (31 points). 

In the pool, the Tar Heels will turn to fifth-year Ellie VanNote for leadership. They lost senior Grace Countie and Sophie Lindner over the offseason, who combined for a total of 114 points that UNC will be tasked with replacing. VanNote placed 8th in the 200 fly (1:47.26) and 9th in the 100 fly (51.7) last year, but she has yet to reach that form so far this season ranked 18th in the 200 fly (1:58.50) and 19th in the 100 fly (53.16). 

The Tar Heels’ supporting cast also includes a trio of up-and-comers: junior breaststroker Skyler Smith (29 ACC points last year), sophomore backstroker Greer Pattison (29 points), and sophomore backstroker Emma Karam (27 points). Smith is ranked 7th in the ACC this season in the 100 breast (59.32), Pattison 4th in the 100 back (51.97), and Karam 13th in the 200 back (1:54.99). 

UNC proved it can still hold off Duke during a dual meet last month where they came from behind on the final relay to clinch a slim five-point victory. It’s going to take everything the Tar Heels have, though, to keep the Blue Devils from stealing that 4th-place spot this year.

NOTRE DAME – The Fighting Irish are making strides in their second season under former Louisville associate coach Chris Lindauer. Notre Dame junior Madelyn Christman placed 17th in the 200 back at ACCs last year, but only Virginia Tech’s Caroline Bentz (1:52.43) has been faster than her 1:53.27 so far this season. 

Distance specialist Maggie Graves has also shown promising signs during her junior campaign, ranking 3rd in the 1650 free (16:11.39) among ACC swimmers this season after placing 6th last year (16:14.95). Senior Megan Deuel has already been more than a second faster in the 200 fly this season (1:57.89) than she was at ACCs last year (1:59.26), where she placed 15th on her way to a 17-point performance. The Irish’s supporting cast also includes junior distance specialist Mary Pruitt (40 points at ACCs last year) and fifth-year breaststroker Ellie Jew (29 points).

Notre Dame lost one of its leaders in the pool, butterfly specialist Coleen Gillilan (40 points), but luckily top scorers sophomore Grace Courtney and junior Calie Brady back with their 104 combined diving points to keep the Irish in the hunt for 7th place. 

PITTSophie Yendell is a threat to make multiple A-finals this year after honing her 100 fly during her senior campaign. She placed 6th in the 50 free (21.89) and 19th in the 100 fly (52.62) last season, but she’s already been as fast as 52.08 this season, which ranks 8th in the ACC. Yendell also ranks 7th in the 50 free (22.03), where she placed 6th last season in 21.89.

Forget about any sophomore slump for Claire Jansen, who is ranked 7th in the 100 back (52.15) and 11th in the 200 back (1:54.82) after placing 17th (52.35) and 18th (1:56.06) at her first ACCs. The improvement of Yendell and Jansen should mitigate the losses of Jacqueline Tinneny (16 points) and Tatum Detwiler (11 points) in former Cal associate Chase Kreitler‘s second season guiding the Panthers.

VIRGINIAWe have to savor what might be the last season the Walsh sisters swim together with the Cavaliers. Gretchen (50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 100 fly, 100 back) and Alex (200 breast, 200 IM, 400 IM) have combined for nation-leading times across eight different events this season. Their versatility makes it difficult to pick which events they’ll choose at ACCs considering they won’t be “all-in” until NCAAs.

Virginia will likely get six individual wins out of that duo to lead a deep squad this year. Meanwhile, several Cavaliers are seeking their first trip atop the podium at ACCs this season. South African sophomore Aimee Canny is ranked 1st in the 500 free this season at 4:36.26 — an event she didn’t even contest at ACCs last year — and heralded freshman prospect Cavan Gormsen owns the top 1650 free time in the conference at 16:08.99. Fellow distance specialist Maddie Donohoe is back for her fifth year with her 69 points last season from a runner-up finish in the 1650 free (15:59.54) and a 3rd-place showing in the 500 free (4:39.53).

Virginia’s depth is off the charts: Junior backstroker Reilly Tiltmann brings back 79 points, senior butterfly specialist Abby Harter returns 68 points, and Ella Nelson is back for her fifth year after claiming ACC crowns last year in the 500 free (4:38.04) and 400 IM (3:59.33). Then there’s junior Ella Bathurst, who has climbed the conference rankings to 6th in the 400 IM (4:03.61), 200 back (1:54.08), and 200 IM (1:57.03) after placing 5th, 7th, and 11th in those events last season. 

There’s no replacing Kate Douglass, but Northwestern transfer Jasmine Nocentini is pretty darn close when it comes to relays. Ranked 1st in the 100 breast (58.19), 2nd in the 50 free (21.45), and 2nd in the 100 free (46.75) this season, Nocentini’s versatility allows her to slot into a number of different relay situations for the Cavaliers. Freshman Tess Howley is also ranked 3rd in the 200 back (1:53.47) and 200 fly (1:54.75) this season in case they need any medley relay help in those strokes.

VIRGINIA TECH – The Hokies are tasked with replacing 100 points between diver Izzi Mroz (52 points) and Sarah Shackelford (48 points), but they’re still in a good spot heading into championship season.

Leading scorer Emma Atkinson is back for her senior year after totaling 76 points as a junior from a 3rd-place finish in the 200 free (1:43.31), 5th-place finish in the 500 free (4:40.62), and 6th-place finish in the 200 back (1:52.68). She hasn’t quite found her form yet this year, ranked 19th in the 200 free (1:46.78), 35th in the 500 free (4:52.36), and 10th in the 200 back (1:54.40) among ACC swimmers this season, but there’s still time to turn things around. 

Senior Caroline Bentz is poised for a huge conference meet after clocking the top 200 back time in the ACC this season at 1:52.43. That’s almost two full seconds faster than her 1:54.36 from last year’s ACCs that placed 9th. Bentz has also been faster in the 100 back at 52.55, which ranks 11th in the conference. 

Distance specialist Chase Travis is on track to make multiple A-finals again as a senior. She’s ranked 3rd in the 500 free (4:41.73) and 5th in the 1650 free (16:16.74) along with 14th in the 400 IM (4:15.32) this season among ACC swimmers. 

Carmen Weiler Sastre placed 7th in the 200 free (1:46.16), 10th in the 200 back (1:55.15), and 13th in the 100 back (52.71) for 54 points as a freshman last year, but she isn’t ranked top-16 in the ACC in any of those events so far this season. 


100 Back – Virginia junior Gretchen Walsh and NC State fifth-year Katharine Berkoff keep pushing the limits for what is possible in this race. Walsh, who crushed Berkoff’s NCAA record (48.74) with a 48.26, blasted an unsuited 48.77 leading off the Cavaliers’ 400 medley relay last month — the fastest dual meet time in history. One week later, Berkoff answered with a suited 49.82 to make her the second-fastest dual meet performer in history. The duo are the only swimmers under the 50-second mark this season; by comparison, no swimmer in the nation was under that barrier at this time last year as Walsh led the NCAA with a 50.07 ahead of Berkoff’s 50.86. Also watch out for NC State sophomore Kennedy Noble to make some noise after placing 3rd in 51.59 and going sub-51 seconds at the Wolfpack’s midseason invite. Although the gap between Walsh and her competition keeps growing, she’ll still have to be at peak form to hold off a seasoned veteran like Berkoff at her final ACCs. It’s worth noting that Walsh is expected to contest the 100 back, but it’s not a sure thing considering Virginia’s habit of having some standout swimmers enter “off-events” at ACCs.

100 Fly – Louisville senior Gabi Albiero is in a similar predicament as Berkoff — she’s the only other swimmer in the ACC under 51 seconds in the 100 fly this season (50.83), but she’s still not all that close to Virginia junior Gretchen Walsh. Albiero trails Walsh’s fastest official time this season (49.11) by more than a second and is more than two seconds behind her quickest unofficial mark of 48.30 swimming butterfly in the 100 free at the Tennessee Invite. For context, Walsh’s unofficial 48.30 was more than a second faster than her runner-up finish at ACCs last year (49.34). We’ll be on American record watch for this one if Walsh opts to contest the event instead of save it for NCAAs. 

100 Breast – Virginia grad transfer Jasmine Nocentini enters this race as the favorite thanks to her season-best 58.19 from last October, but there are a few interesting names from less dominant teams in the mix as well. Duke’s Kaelyn Gridley (58.74) and Florida State’s Maddy Huggins (58.76) have also been under the 59-second barrier this season. Georgia Tech’s Sabyne Brisson (59.08) and North Carolina’s Skyler Smith (59.32) figure to be in contention, too. Of course, we can’t forget about Virginia senior Alex Walsh, who won last year’s 100 breast title in 57.64, but her inclusion in the field is a big question mark.


  1. Virginia
  2. Louisville
  3. NC State
  4. Duke
  5. North Carolina
  6. Virginia Tech
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Florida State
  9. Pitt
  10. Georgia Tech
  11. Miami

Frankly, it would be a miracle if red-hot Gretchen Walsh did not lead Virginia to its fifth ACC title in a row this year. But behind the Cavaliers, it’s a toss-up in the ACC standings. 

Louisville vs. NC State figures to be a tight battle for 2nd place, but we’re giving the edge to Cardinals since they returned their entire core and have significantly better divers (they outscored NC State by 86 points on the boards at last year’s ACC Championship meet). The Wolfpack, on the other hand, lost Kylee Alons and four other high-scoring swimmers from ACCs last season.

The clash for 4th place between rivals North Carolina and Duke should be even closer than last year, as evidenced by their dual meet matchup coming down to the final relay last month. The Blue Devils got the nod in our predictions thanks to the emergence of freshman backstroker Ali Pfaff, who we expect to be a difference-maker this year alongside Sarah Foley, Kaelyn Gridley, and Martina Peroni.

In a flip-flop of historical fortune, North Carolina has had the ACC’s best diving squad the last few years – led by the CSCAA Diver of the Year Aranza Vazquez. While they still might have the best diving group in the conference, it’s not as good as last year. 2023 freshman Haley Marshall is not on the team’s roster and hasn’t dived since NCAAs, nor has 2023 junior Emily GrundPaige Burrell graduated and is doing her 5th year at Florida International. They combined for 146 individual points. It’s going to be hard for the Tar Heels to hold on.

If Caroline Bentz can continue her breakout senior campaign for Virginia Tech, the Hokies should have enough returning firepower to hang on to 6th place — or maybe even threaten to upset Duke or North Carolina. We anticipate Miami and Georgia Tech falling in the ranking because they lost their top scorers from last season, but 7th place appears up for grabs between Florida State and Notre Dame. 

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a b
2 months ago

Could the ACC website be more useless?

I miss the ISL
2 months ago

NC State really gotta find some other swimmers besides Berkoff and Arens yikes. Those recruits cant come soon enough

2 months ago

I’d love to see Gretchen do the 50 Free, 100 Fly, and 100 Back at this meet individually and lead-off the 400 and 800 Free Relays.

Do we think UVA will keep Gretchen off of the 800 Free Relay to assess all relays in hopes of cracking that record at NCAAs? They have quite a few options for that relay and likely don’t need Gretchen to win on the conference level…

Swammer Mom
2 months ago

Miami has Talia Bates.

Reply to  Swammer Mom
2 months ago

And Jane Fitzgerald!

2 months ago

Entries are on meet mobile. Some swimmers are entered in three focus (Nichols, Nocentini), but a lot are over-entered, including Alex who is entered in seven events. Gretchen is entered in 50/100 free, 100 back, 100 fly, so she’ll have to sratch one.

Sorry if I missed a psych sheet article I just assumed there wasn’t since it wasn’t linked here.

2 months ago

Please no Amy Van Dyken this year!

Reply to  Ervin
2 months ago

i like amy

Reply to  PCB
2 months ago

I like Amy and thought she was great as a host on the pre & post shows for Pro Swim Series events when they used to have them, but as a color commentator, particularly for college events, not so much.

VA Steve
Reply to  DG5301
2 months ago


Reply to  Ervin
2 months ago

comment image?a474168

“Look at those booties on the surface of the water!”

ACC fan
Reply to  PVSFree
2 months ago

Is this ageism?

2 months ago

“Gretchen Walsh’s nation-leading 48.77 (unsuited)“. Really SwimSwam? Are y’all identifying all other times as “suited/unsuited” in your articles? Come on man

Reply to  Breezeway
2 months ago

Gretchen doesn’t seem to get the boost a lot of swimmers get when putting on a tech suit. It would be interesting to do an informal stat study on body type and tech suit performance.

Reply to  Breezeway
2 months ago

Related question: Is anyone else’s nation-leading time unsuited?

Reply to  Coleman Hodges
2 months ago

Out of the 1000s of times recorded this year, I don’t know. But that was an NC State section of the article, put it in the UVA section

Reply to  Breezeway
2 months ago

Yes SwimSwam typically specifies if a really fast in season swim was done with or without a tech suit. Nowadays you never know who suited up and who didn’t, other than maybe ASU.

Also, if this bothers you, you probably shouldn’t be in SwimSwam reading the comments.

Bill Lumberg
2 months ago

Where can I see this streamed? (sorry if I am annoying for asking this)

Bill Lumberg
Reply to  Robert Gibbs
2 months ago


About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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