VT Freshmen Lead The Way To Team’s Highest ACC Placing Since 2015

by Ben Dornan 3

February 22nd, 2021 ACC, College, National, News


Following their sprint freestyle sweep and 4×100 freestyle victory at the 2021 SEC Championships, we did a breakdown of Alabama’s recent surge to the top of the NCAA sprint scene. Another team that showed a significant improvement from recent years this week has been Virginia Tech.

At the 2021 ACC Women’s Championships, the Virginia Tech women finished in 4th place behind Virginia, NC State, and Louisville. That’s their best performance at the meet since their third-place finish back in 2015 when only Virginia and UNC managed to out-score them.

After 2015, VT had a bit of a lull in performance which lasted for a number of years, including back to back 8th place ACC finishes in 2019 and 2020:

Virginia Tech ACC Team Rank By Year

  • 2015: 3rd
  • 2016: 5th
  • 2017: 5th
  • 2018: 7th
  • 2019: 8th
  • 2020: 8th
  • 2021: 4th

From 2020 to 2021, not only did VT jump from 8th at ACCs to 4th, they nearly doubled the number of points scored. In 2019 the team earned 477.5 points, in 2020 they earned 469, and this year they scored a total of 832 points at last week’s 2021 Championships.

In order to track down just what changed from one year to another, we can take a look at the team’s scoring breakdown by year.

2019 2020 2021
FR 85.5 (Class of 2022) 75 (Class of 2023) 201 (Class of 2024)
SO 103 (Class of 2021) 135.5 (Class of 2022) 107 (Class of 2023)
JR 104 (Class of 2020) 37.5 (Class of 2021) 164 (Class of 2022)
SR 99 (Class of 2019) 140 (Class of 2020) 106 (Class of 2021)
Total 477.5 469 832

The most obvious stat here is the general trend upward in how many points every year is scoring. In 2019 the maximum number of points scored by any one year was 104 by the juniors. In 2021, every year exceeded 104 points as the seniors hit the minimum of 106.

Not only is the overall number of points scored by each year increasing, but each year of swimmers that have been around prior to the 2020-2021 season have actually peaked at this year’s championships.

The Class of 2021, this year’s seniors, earned 106 points this year which is more than they have scored in the past two seasons. Meanwhile, the Class of 2022 is on a clear rise, going from 85.5 points as freshmen in 2019, to 135.5 points as sophomores in 2020, to now scoring 164 points as juniors in 2021. This year’s sophomores who represent the class of 2023 don’t have much data to work with as they’re in only their second year but comparing the numbers from 2020 to now, they have seen a jump from 75 points as freshmen to 107 as sophomores.

Combine those three respective peaks by the classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023 with a 201-point yield by this year’s freshmen, and it’s pretty clear that the VT women are in the best shape they’ve been in in a while.

Among those freshmen providing a promising future for the team are Chase Travis, Emma Atkinson, and Caroline Bentz. The three of them were in the top 5 of their team in terms of points scored at the meet:

Top 5 VT Women Individual Point Scorers; ACCs 2021

  1. Reka Gyorgy (SR): 79 Points
  2. Emma Atkinson (FR): 68 Points
  3. Caroline Benta (FR): 62 Points
  4. Sa Shackelford (SO): 56 Points
  5. Chase Travis (FR): 51 Points

Together, they put together 7 top 10 finishes at ACCs last weekend.

Along with her 4th place finish at ACCs, Emma Atkinson also hit the top 10 overall NCAA rankings this season in the 200 backstroke. Her 1:51.64 sits just behind Phoebe Bacon’s 8th place 1:51.63 and ahead of Paige Madden’s 1:51.85.

So while the team is not relying solely on their freshmen, VT’s youngest year is certainly providing additional hope to the team’s aspirations for the remainder of the season and in years to come. With only a few weeks between now and NCAA Championships, it will be exciting to see how they fare at the first collegiate championships since 2019.

Two years ago, VT earned 40th out of 43 teams at NCAAs but, scoring only 5 points. Having jumped 4 spots at ACCs since then and with another 2 years of improvement, VT is definitely within striking distance to climb the ranks once again.

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1 year ago

Love seeing programs on the rise!

1 year ago

The womens team had a great week and i suspect the mens team will open a few eyes this week. Sergio and his staff are going great things in Blacksburg.

1 year ago

Great article! I love hearing stories like this. Go Virginia Tech!