Pitt swimmers and divers prepare for Georgia championships


By Brandon Duerr / Staff Writer

Dominic Giordano knew before his dive on Saturday that his win depended on nearly perfect form.

His back 1 1/2 somersault and 3 1/2 twist earned him 97.35 points out of a possible 99 and ensured that he grabbed the top spot, and in the process, the sophomore diver won his and Pitt’s first ACC diving title.

“I knew I had to relax and let my body do what it normally does,” Giordano said in an interview with Pitt Athletics afterward.

Now, the regular season has ended for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. Next up is the ACC championships, beginning on Wednesday and hosted by Georgia Tech in Atlanta, where Pitt will try to stay afloat and keep up the success.

The Pitt men currently rank sixth out of 12 teams after a strong performance from the divers last week. They will have an opportunity to advance further up the standings this week, beginning with the 200-yard medley relay and the 800-yard free relay on Wednesday.

The championships continue on Thursday with preliminary and final rounds for several freestyle events, with most of the backstroke races coming on Friday. Saturday hosts the finals for most of the events spanning every racing style.

Senior swimmer Kourosh Ahani said his personal experiences in big meets have him prepared for Georgia.

“We didn’t know what to expect our first year in the ACC, and we were kind of shocked at the caliber and depth of the teams,” Ahani said. “But now we are ready and know what’s coming.” Ahani will compete in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, as well as the 100-yard butterfly.

In 2013, Ahani set personal bests in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle in Pitt’s final year of the Big East championships.

Senior teammate Luke Nobisch added that focus is as important for him as past performance.

“Focus is a big thing individually,” he said. “When one person is competing at the highest level they are capable of, then the rest of the team can see the effort and really build off that energy, and the team can come together.”

Nobisch will also compete in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, which will occur on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

Last week, Giordano wasn’t the only Pitt athlete who enjoyed a strong performance.

Junior swimmer Kaleigh Ritter headlined the women’s teams, setting half of the four school records broken in the tournament. She was a primary factor in the Panthers’ eighth-place finish and an overall improvement in points with 501 — 26.5 more points than last year’s tournament.

Her time of 16:41:31 in the 1650 free also set a school record and earned her a bronze.

No. 8 Virginia won its eighth straight ACC women’s championship in the competition, finishing with a final score of 1308.5 points. North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Louisville and North Carolina State rounded out the rest of the top five, all but one of which are currently ranked in the top 25 in the country.

On the men’s side, Pitt sits at No. 6 in a conference loaded with ranked teams, like No. 7 North Carolina State, No. 10 Louisville, No. 15 North Carolina, No. 17 Virginia Tech and No. 25 Virginia.

With the competition requiring faster times and better scores, Pitt may need more top-notch performances like Giordano’s. Ahani said that atmosphere will affect Pitt’s preparation.

“There’s a different type of feel to it,” he said. “It’s more of a business trip instead of a fun trip, and for that, we need to have proper rest and visualization.”

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