Sam O’Brien, the CAA’s #2 Scorer, Will Transfer to Virginia Next Season

As the transfer portal giveth, the transfer portal taketh away. Sam O’Brien, the CAA Champion last year in both the 500 and 1650 freestyles, has announced a transfer from UNC Wilmington to the University of Virginia next season.

O’Brien has two seasons of eligibility left after swimming at UNCW for two years.

“To my seahawk family, friends, coaches, and teammates, thank you for the last two years,” O’Brien said about his decision. “You all turned Wilmington from a beach town into a lifetime home for me and I wouldn’t trade the world for the memories I’ve made. I would be lying if I said it was easy to say goodbye, but it’s time for a new chapter.

“I am absolutely ecstatic to be transferring to UVA! Thanks to all of the coaches for this opportunity.”

His announcement came a few days after the UNCW Seahawks picked up a big ACC transfer in the form of breaststroker Dylan Citta. UNCW won last year’s CAA conference championship by 284 points, a big margin ahead of Delaware, and O’Brien was a big part of that.

O’Brien’s 57 individual points were the most for a Seahawk and the second-most in the conference behind Towson’s Brian Benzing, the conference’s swimmer of the year. Benzing is also in the NCAA Transfer Portal, albeit with his eyes on a move for the 2024-2025 season.

O’Brien’s effort at the CAA Championships included a runner-up finish in the 200 back, which comes right after the mile in the CAA – though he swam in heat 3, which was about 3 hours before finals began.

At UVA, he will help build up the Cavalier men’s weakest group last season. The Cavaliers scored only 10 points in the 500 free, 37 in the 1650 free, and 26 in the 200 free at the ACC Championships. Those were their three lowest-scoring swimming events, aside from the 33 points they scored in the 400 IM.

All of those points in the mile return, though only 3 of the 10 in the 500 are coming back (Jack Wright is graduating).

Best Times in Yards:

  • 200 free – 1:39.29 (November 2021) // 1:36.44 (relay start)
  • 500 free – 4:19.02 (CAA Record)
  • 1000 free – 9:08.27 (dual meet)
  • 1650 free – 15:08.90
  • 100 back – 49.23 (February 2021)
  • 200 back – 1:42.35

O’Brien’s best times would have put him in the mid-B final in the 500 free, 9th in the mile, and in the mid-B final in the 200 back. That makes him worth about 50 points to the Cavaliers next season if he repeats those times.

Editor’s note: the CAA only scores to 16 places, so a win is worth 20 points. The ACC scores to 24 places, so a win is worth 32 points. That means O’Brien’s 2022 CAA conference scoring is on a different scale than his ACC scoring potential.

O’Brien also won CAA titles in the 500 free and 1650 free as a freshman in 2022, with times of 4:23.83 and 15:27.16, respectively. He was 2nd in the 400 IM that year.

O’Brien was a two-time individual Virginia 4A State Champion as a senior in high school in 2021, winning the 100 back and 500 free. He grew up attending Loudon Valley High School in Virginia and training with The FISH team in the DC suburbs.

Also before his college career began, he was a 2021 US Olympic Trials qualifier. At the Wave 1 meet, he finished 34th in the 100 back (57.05) and 7th in the 200 back (2:02.52), with a best time of 2:01.79 in the 200 back from April 2021.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
29 days ago

Let’s Go Hoos! UVA men need some distance momentum big time

30 days ago

Financial aid aside, there is about a $40,000 tuition difference between in-state at UVA and out of state at UNCW.

Inclusive Parent
Reply to  Wahooswimfan
29 days ago

Try less than $4,000. UVA is stupid expensive compared to most public universities. (Great school, but you pay for it.) Tuition is $15-27k depending upon program (CLAS or ESchool or CommSchool) plus room, board & fees. UNCW is $20k out of state.

Reply to  Inclusive Parent
29 days ago

It’s $30k out of state

Inclusive Parent
Reply to  Swinminglee
29 days ago

According to UNCW web site, it’s $20,016 for non-NC resident for 23-24 year. Unless there’s something else I’m missing.

Reply to  Swinminglee
28 days ago

As a Virginia resident who pays UNCW tuition, there is not much difference between the two in price. UNCW is also more generous with academic money than UVA.

1 month ago

Curious how that transfer went for two former coaching colleagues at NC State. Think there’s any bad blood now?

Reply to  Curious
30 days ago

I don’t understand the down votes

Seems like a reasonable question

Bigger question is can Desorbo fix what’s ailing the boys (as compared to the girls)

Old CAA fan
Reply to  Curious
29 days ago

DeSorbo is UNCW alum as well transfer portal changed the game. More swimmers will go to mid major, develop, and transfer to power 5

Reply to  Old CAA fan
29 days ago

not to mention Desorbo actually was a transfer himself, bobby is probably only angry because he lost his best swimmer, probably not angry towards todd

Cold Water
Reply to  Old CAA fan
29 days ago

Hey….Your call.

Old CAA fan
Reply to  Cold Water
29 days ago

Sam made the call. improved significantly over the past 2 seasons. that’s a good call

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »