Fox Chapel’s Zoe Skirboll excited about decision to swim at Virginia

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 | 12:38 PM

Zoe Skirboll was not cavalier when she made the announcement Tuesday of her verbal commitment to swim for the Virginia Cavaliers.

The rising junior at Fox Chapel and one of the top swimmers in the state and the country expressed her excitement with photos and a message on Instagram.

Skirboll also had interest from top NCAA swim programs such as Texas, Florida, Louisville, Georgia and Auburn.

“Every since I was little, I dreamed about these top colleges and where I wanted to go,” she said. “It’s crazy that the dream turned into a reality and I was talking to the coaches from those dream schools. They reached out and wanted me. It’s been hard to wrap my head around it sometimes. You realize all the hours and all the hard work you put in is paying off.”

Skirboll said conversations got rolling with Virginia coach Todd DeSorbo shortly after the recruiting period for rising juniors began June 15. It was the first time, she said, she had spoken to DeSorbo.

“From talking just the first couple of times, we had a really good connection,” said Skirboll, who indicated business or finance as possible courses of study. “He made me feel like Virginia would be a great fit for me.”

Testimonials from team members and a trip to the Charlottesville campus a couple of weekends ago solidified her decision.

“I just fell in love with it all even more,” Skirboll said of her on-campus visit. “I knew right then and there that this is the place for me. I was ready. There was no hesitation.”

The Virginia women’s swim team captured its 16th ACC title in February. It was the Cavaliers’ 11th conference crown since 2008.

The team aspired to challenge for the NCAA title a couple of weeks later as 15 female swimmers and three divers had qualified, but the NCAA championships were canceled in the early stages of the covid-19 safety response.

All 18 qualifiers earned All-American status from the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America.

“I know they are going to come up with a national title soon. I am so excited,” said Skirboll, who plans to follow the team’s progress over the next two seasons in advance of her arrival in the fall of 2022.

Skirboll, a member of the Racer-X club team, has kept her focus in and out of the water over the past couple of months and hopes to return to competition soon with a TYR Pro Swim Series event in Knoxville from Jan. 13-16 as a possible target.

The rescheduled Olympic Trials, set for June in Omaha, Neb., are a main focus. She has qualified in the 50-meter freestyle (25.94 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (1:10.46).

Skirboll, who trained at the USA Swimming National Select Camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs last fall, is expected to forgo her second straight season of high school competition in order to concentrate on preparation for the trials.

As a freshman, Skirboll captured the 200-yard individual medley title (1:58.75) and was runner-up in the 100 breast (1:01.23) at the PIAA Class AAA championships at Bucknell University.

“I am really happy for Zoe,” said Jim Skirboll, Zoe’s father and the head coach for Racer-X. “The program has been doing great. You go there and you get faster. On paper, Virginia was going into the NCAA championships seeded first. For Zoe, that they might be in contention for a national title during her four years is pretty exciting.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at


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