Yes, folks, you heard right.  It’s Carolina Week, one of  the best of the 50 week long swim season.  For many, many, many unnamed and inappropriate reasons, UNC is the UVa swim team’s most hated rival.  The rivalry can be traced back to the very beginning of Virginia’s swimming program, made worse by the fiery antics between Coach Bernardino and Coach Comfort.

My girls are swimming UNC at home this coming Saturday, and after 4 years of participating in the meet, I can finally be a rowdy, cat-calling, you-think-I’m-drunk-but-I-really-just-hate-you fan.  I’m going down to Charlottesville on Saturday expecting fast swimming and healthy competition–and maybe a few fights in the stands.

While I was on Virginia’s swim team, I truly felt that the world would end if we lost the dual meet to North Carolina (which we did, my first year; a crushing defeat made worse by a poor personal performance that made me want to curl up under my dorm room bed and never show my face at the pool again).  But now, one year removed from the heat of the UNC-UVa battle, I realize that the rivalry was merely a tool implemented to motivate us during the lengthy season.  UNC was used as a reminder to always work hard, stay focused, and keep the internal fires burning.  I still experience a visceral, jaw-tightening reaction to anything UNC-related: I am not in any way a law breaker, but seeing UNC bumper stickers makes me want to do some serious vandalizing.  I see people in UNC sweatshirts and my fingers itch to light a match and burn something.  But overall, I easily came to the conclusion that UVa and UNC swimmers are essentially on the same team–just trying to get through 4 years of a grueling, mentally discouraging sport, blowing up a rivalry for something to work towards.

That conclusion being said, it’s still Carolina Week, and I am still allowed to hate UNC for these 5 days.  I am so excited to watch my team fired up and having fun, but until Saturday, I plan on keeping myself busy by TPing the cube of the UNC grad I work with.


Did you have a strong rivalry with another school while you were at college?

I think rivalries are stronger for the athletes at the schools.  The normal UVa students barely hated UNC at all, and thought the swim team was a little crazy for how serious we were about beating them.


One Response

  1. Boooo UNC! Hooray UVa! Wish I could fly out and be there–UVa is so fun.

    The Cal/Stanford rivalry is…very strong.

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