UVA’s Caroline Gmelich & Ella Nelson Comment on One Another’s ACC Swims (Video)


  • When: Wednesday, February 19th to Saturday, February 22nd | Prelims 10:00 am | Finals 6:00 pm (1650 prelims Saturday at 4:00 pm)
  • Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center, Greensboro, North Carolina (Eastern Time Zone)
  • Defending Champion: North Carolina State University (NC State) (1x) (results)
  • Streaming: ACC Network
  • Championship Central: Here
  • Detailed Timeline: Here
  • Psych Sheets: Here
  • Live Results

As to be expected, the University of Virginia Women’s Swimming & Diving team was in high spirits following their victory Saturday at the 2020 ACC Championships. The UVA women have been a dominant force in the ACC for over a decade, but in recent years NC State has stolen their thunder.

University of Virginia teammates Caroline Gmelich and Ella Nelson spoke with SwimSwam at the conclusion of the meet Saturday. Both women had electric performances in Greensboro.

Nelson, a freshman, nearly won both the 400 IM and the 200 breaststroke, taking silver in each race by margins of 0.01 and 0.09, respectively. In the 200 breaststroke, Nelson nearly overpowered defending champ Sophie Hansson of NC State and was one of three women to post a sub-2:05 time in the ‘A’ fina. Gmelich, meanwhile, played an integral role on UVA’s medley relays and also took 2nd in the 100 backstroke.


  • Meet Record: NC State (2019) – 1:34.52
  • ACC Record: Virginia (2019) – 1:33.91
  • NCAA Record: Stanford (2018) – 1:33.11
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:36.40
  • NCAA ‘B’ Cut: 1:37.05
  • 2019 Champion: NC State, 1:34.52
  1. Virginia, 1:34.27
  2. NC State, 1:34.38
  3. Louisville, 1:35.87

In what could be a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the meet, the Cavaliers and Wolfpack went toe-to-toe in the opening event of the meet.

Caroline Gmelich put UVA in the lead early with a 23.98 backstroke leg, with Katharine Berkoff just behind at 24.04 (and UNC and Notre Dame just a hair behind those two teams). Sophie Hansson out dueled Alexis Wenger 26.21 to 26.68, giving NC State a 0.4s lead at the halfway point. Katherine Douglass‘s 22.33 fly split put UVA back within a tenth of a second, and Morgan Hill got just past Ky-Lee Perry with a 21.28 anchor leg (versus Perry’s 21.48) to give UVA the win, 1:34.27 to 1:34.38.

Both of those times were under the previous meet record, while UVA was just a few tenths off the ACC record time they set at the Tennessee Invite in November.

Behind the two leaders, Louisville and Duke battled it out for 3rd place. Louisville led by just 0.04s after the breaststroke leg, but Alyssa Marsh scorched a 22.05 fly split (within a tenth of Kelsi Worrell’s 21.96 that’s unofficially the fastest split ever). Casey Fanz, though, had the fastest anchor in the entire field, throwing down a 21.15 that was over a second faster than Duke anchor Sarah Synder‘s 22.25, as Louisville took 3rd, 1:35.87 to 1:35.93.

All four of the top teams were under the NCAA ‘A’ cut, while UNC also finished under the ‘B’ cut with a 1:36.94.


  • ACC meet record: 4:04.21 – Tanja Kylliainen, 2015
  • ACC record: 4:03.51 – Tanja Kylliainen, 2015
  • 2019 ACC Champion: Kathleen Moore (NCS) – 4:05.24
  1. Kate Moore (NC State) – 4:04.35
  2. Ella Nelson (Virginia) – 4:04.36
  3. Emma Muzzy (NC State) – 4:05.08

This race was a great example of how fun a 400 IM can be to watch, as the leaders changed from stroke to stroke. UVA junior Abby Richter was the early leader after going out in 55.01 on the fly leg, but defending champion Kate Moore moved just 0.08s ahead of Richter on the backstroke leg. UVA freshman Ella Nelson surged ahead after splitting 33.92/34.55 on breast. She continued to hold the lead after the first 50 of freestyle, but Moore charged home, out splitting Nelson 27.48 to 28.63 on the last 50, en route to winning by the narrowest of margins, 4:04.35 to 4:04.36.

Moore remains the only woman in NC State history to win an ACC title in this race. NC State has been part of ACC women’s swimming since it started in 1979.

Richter ended up 4th in 4:05.86, NC State sophomore Emma Muzzy took 3rd in 4:05.08, and NC State also got a 5th-place finish from Makayla Sargent, helping NC State narrow the point gap against UVA.

All eight women in the A-final improved on their time from this morning.


  • ACC meet record: 2:04.34 – Emma Reaney, 2014
  • ACC record: 2:04.06 – Emma Reaney, 2014
  • 2019 ACC champion: Sophie Hansson (NC State) – 2:06.73
  1. Sophie Hansson (NC State) – 2:05.59
  2. Ella Nelson (Virginia) – 2:05.68
  3. Kate Douglass (Virginia) – 2:05.89

Coming into tonight, this race was giving every indication that it would a great one, and it did not disappoint. Three underclassmen turned together at the final wall, and at the touch, it was NC State sophomore Sophie Hansson who defended her title with a 2:05.59 victory. UVA’s Ella Nelson took 2nd in 2:05.68, her first time under 2:07, and fellow Cavalier freshman Kate Douglass, who had the fastest time in the nation heading into tonight, took 3rd in 2:05.89. Those are personal bests for all three swimmers and are currently the the top three times in the nation this year. Hansson is now 4-4 in the breaststroke races in her ACC champs career.

Only three teams were represented in the A-final. NC State got 4th and 8th place finishes from Julia Poole (2:08.59) and Olivia Calegan (2:13.83). UVA’s Alexis Wenger earned 5th with a 2:09.20. Louisville Cardinals Morgan Friesen (2:09.24) and Mariia Astashkina (2:09.37) took 6th and 7th. To show how explosively fast this event has gotten in the last year, Friesen took 3rd in 2019 with a 2:09.05.


  1. Virginia – 1492.5
  2. NC State – 1333
  3. Louisville – 1105.5
  4. North Carolina – 839
  5. Notre Dame – 784
  6. Duke – 675.5
  7. Florida State – 555
  8. Virginia Tech – 469
  9. Georgia Tech – 407.5
  10. Pitt – 359
  11. Miami – 298
  12. Boston College – 164

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3 years ago

This team has the potential to make some serious noise in March.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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