GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Miami Hurricanes swimming & diving team will mark its return to the pool Wednesday, as the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Swimming & Diving Championships begin from the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
Miami, competing for the first time since a tri-meet in Blacksburg, Va., back on Jan. 19, has utilized the last month of practice as preparation for the final and most important month of the season.
"We've been fine-tuning in practice, and everyone really looks amazing," head swimming coach Christie Shefchunas said. "We are so excited to see what happens this week. We're in great spirits, we're swimming fast. It's going to be a really exciting week."
At the 2012 ACC Championships in Blacksburg, the swimming team's impressive run included three trips to the podium over the course of the tournament. Miami's entry in the 200-yard Medley Relay began the medaling by taking third place on the first day of competition. Kelsi Hall, who became Miami's first All-American in a decade in 2012, took first in the 50-yard Freestyle on day two.
Most impressive was the performance of current senior Sofia Johansson, who captured a second straight gold medal in the 100-yard Breaststroke. She became the first woman to swim the event in under a minute in ACC history, touching the wall in a time of 59.81 seconds.
"She brings a load of experience," Shefchunas said of her star senior. "She is a difference-maker in our program."
While the coaching staff is hoping to see Johansson pull off her third straight title, Shefchunas admits she has other goals in mind for the Ramlösa, Sweden native.
"It's very hard to win three in a row. She's going in seeded No. 2, and it would be huge if she could pull this off," she said. "But we want to make sure she gets qualified for the NCAA's. We want another conference championship, but for her to be an All-American would be the ultimate goal."
Johansson, competing in perhaps the final event of her Hurricane career, is part of a 2013 class that is credited with turning the program around. Alongside Johansson are Christine Anderson (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Celeste Degen (Hudson, Fla.), Hannah Kling (Miami, Fla.), Haley Nicholson (Pensacola, Fla.) and Kayla Smith (Madison, Wisc.), as well as diver Carrie Dragland (Woodinville, Wash.).
"Those girls are my family. It's going to be bittersweet. Their leadership is unbelievable - they've been phenomenal leaders all year," Shefchunas said. "They've been keeping everybody calm and loose these past couple of weeks. They're definitely one of the most special groups I have ever worked with."
All championship information including a full event schedule and live results can be found at the official championship website, http://theacc.co/SwimDiveChamps. Fans can also get updates by following along on Twitter at #ACCWSD and @ACCSwimDive.
A live video stream of event finals will be available from the ACC Digital Network on theACC.com Thursday through Saturday from 7 p.m. until the finish, with Leah Secondo handling play-by-play and Frank Comfort adding analysis.