ATLANTA—Pitt concluded the 2017 ACC Diving and Women’s Swimming Championships on Thursday evening by receiving one major individual honor to go with several top-10 finishes as the Panthers’ women’s team finished the meet in ninth place with 428 team points.
Pitt senior Dominic Giordano was named 2017 ACC Championships Most Valuable Men’s Diver following his third-place finish in the platform diving finals with a score of 377.5 on Thursday night. Giordano also won the 3-meter springboard event and placed fourth on 1-meter earlier this week, making him the only diver in the ACC this year to reach the finals of all three diving events.
“Winning this award is such an honor because of how talented and amazing the rest of the divers in this conference are,” Giordano said after becoming Pitt’s first ever ACC Championships Most Valuable Diver. “Tonight I needed a really big final dive to get third place, and I’m so happy I was able to pull it off. Two of my biggest goals were to get on the podium in platform and to win this award, and I’m thrilled to have accomplished both.”
Giordano saved his best platform dive for last Thursday, scoring over 84 points on his final attempt to leap from fifth to third in the last round to earn his second medal of the 2017 ACC Championships.
Junior Lina Rathsack capped her first ACC Championships with her third Pitt record and third top-10 swimming finish of the meet, placing fourth in the 200 breast A Final on Thursday evening with a time of 2:09.06 to drop her previous school record by over a second.
“Honestly, I did so much better than I expected to in this meet,” said Rathsack, who also set Pitt records and placed top-10 in the ACC in the 200 IM and 100 breast earlier in the meet. “Our training focus has been on being ready for nationals, but I was so pleased to go faster than I thought I would. That gets me really excited for NCAAs next month.”
Joining Rathsack and Giordano in earning a third top-10 finish of the meet was junior distance swimmer Amanda Richey, who placed fifth in the 1650 free with a time of 16:16.30. Richey’s three top-10 swims in the freestyle mile, 500 free and 400 IM were a big reason why the Panthers improved upon last season’s point total in the conference while finishing ahead of host Georgia Tech, Miami, Boston College and Clemson.
“I really enjoyed this meet,” Richey said. “I had so much fun swimming and racing with my teammates and watching us break school records and go fast in so many races. Everyone had a great time and came together to help us improve our team finish.”
Another big asset to the Panthers’ success was the impacts of freshmen Sarah Giamber and Valerie Daigneault.
Daigneault broke her own school record in the 200 back on the final day of ACCs, placing 18th in the event with a new Pitt all-time mark of 1:56.64 to post seven points in the C Final of the event.
Giamber capped her meet Thursday by scoring for the third time, following up her 500 free and 400 IM finals appearances by tallying 17 big team points via a 10th-place finish in the 1650 free with a time of 16:30.89 that shattered her previous personal best by 23 seconds.
“It was nice to accomplish our goals of scoring more team points and moving up in the conference,” Pitt head coach John Hargis said after the meet concluded and champions North Carolina State celebrated. “We had some tremendous swims today and all week from Amanda, Lina, Sarah, Valerie and so many others. Setting six school records was a great accomplishment. Going forward, we want to continue to get better. We certainly got better this year as a team. Now we’re hoping that our individuals who will be competing at NCAAs in a few weeks can have strong finishes to their seasons.”
Other performances on the final day of ACCs from the Panthers included junior diver Meme Sharp earning her second top-10 finish of the week, taking 10th on platform with 224.0 points. Sophomore Cheyanne Neuenschwander also finished with a strong diving event, scoring 206.45 to place 19th and put six more points on the board for team. Krista Jones (26th, 186.75) and Rachel Saunders (30th, 177.1) rounded out Pitt’s efforts on platform.
In swimming, the Pitt 400 free relay team comprised of Emily Murphy, Lina Rathsack, Rachel Brown and Valerie Daigneault placed 11th with a time of 3:20.21.
Individually, Colleen Daday also placed for Pitt in the 1650 free to seize 22nd with a time of 16:58.07. Kinga Cichowska reached the C Final of the 200 breast and took 24th through her finals time of 2:15.78. Shan Hochkeppel (28th, 1:59.77) and Maddy Thomas (33rd, 2:01.25) competed well in the 200 back prelims, as did Emily Murphy (30th, 49.87), Rachel Brown (40th, 50.59) and Melissa Pocsai (47th, 52.33) in the 100 free prelims. Also racing in prelims were Katherine Fernander (26th, 2:15.75) and Charlene Yuan (33rd, 2:18.65) in the 200 breast, Madelyn Shaffer (28th, 2:02.65) and Athena Summa (32nd, 2:04.26) in the 200 fly and Allison Murslack (29th, 17:34.22) in the 1650 free.
Next up for Pitt swimming & diving, a few members of the women’s team will head to the Ohio State NCAA Last Chance Meet on Sunday, Feb. 26. The ACC Men’s Swimming Championships begin the next day and will be held right back at Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center from Monday, Feb. 27 to Thursday, March 2.
The diving of Giordano and freshman Joe Ference this week recorded 107 team points for Pitt, sixth most in the conference, heading into the swimming portion of men’s ACCs in the pool in two weeks.
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