DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams wrapped up a season-opening double dual meet against ACC foes Florida State and Virginia Tech Saturday in Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion. The Blue Devils continued to shine in the relay events following Friday night’s action, and featured several strong individual efforts.
“It was a really great weekend of racing,” said head coach Dan Colella. “To have three ACC schools come together and compete in the middle of October and have the kind of performances we had this weekend was an exciting way to get things started. Virginia Tech did a phenomenal job this weekend. They came in, and from start to finish, swam incredibly tough. But all three teams posted some great performances.”
After two days of swimming and diving events, the Duke women, ranked 20th in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Division I Preseason Poll, split the weekend. The squad topped the 23rd-ranked Florida State women by a 192.5-160.5 margin but fell to the Hokies, 214-139. On the men’s side, the Blue Devils posted nearly identical scores in dual losses to the 20th-ranked Seminoles (208-145) and to 19th-ranked Virginia Tech (209-144).
The Blue Devils swimmers set the tone early on Saturday, racing to the wall first in both 200-yard medley relay events. The quartet of junior Maddie Hess, freshman Connie Dean, sophomore Alyssa Marsh and senior Leah Goldman led off the session with a win in the women’s race at 1:41.41. Junior Max St. George, junior Sean Tate, junior Yusuke Legard and sophomore Miles Williams followed suit in the men’s event, combining for a mark of 1:29.39. The men’s relay victory came on the heels of a first-place showing in the 400 medley relay, which rounded out Friday evening’s events in Taishoff.
“On the men’s side, we had several great performances,” Colella said. “Max St. George in the backstrokes and Yusuke Legard in the 100 freestyle. Two of the really big highlights were the medley relays. To win those events and have the kind of performances that we had was just really, really exciting. For the women, some real highlights there. I think Alyssa Marsh had some really fine performances this weekend. The freshman Connie Dean stood up and raced really well for her first American collegiate meet.”
After claiming the 500 freestyle Friday night, senior Verity Abel kept the momentum rolling Saturday, winning the 1,000 freestyle in 10:03.00. Marsh tapped the wall at 22.91 for first in the 50 freestyle before returning to the water later to take the 100 butterfly in 54.52.
On the men’s side, Duke received a boost from the three-meter springboard, where junior Evan Moretti notched a career-best score of 390.65 in a first-place showing. Junior Mackenzie Willborn was second in the women’s one-meter competition (271.25), while back in the pool, St. George added a first-place finish for the men in the 100 backstroke. His 47.95 clocking surpassed the NCAA provisional qualification standard in the event.
“Evan competed against a lot of really, really good guys who are in our ACC conference, so I was happy that he won three-meter and also won by quite a margin,” said head diving coach Nunzio Esposto. “We had a really good first meet considering it was against two of our top contenders in the ACC. I felt like all of the divers did well today and we’re off to a great start.”
Freshman Connie Dean continued to shine in her first meet as a Blue Devil, taking second in the 200 breaststroke (2:17.80) before teaming up with senior Lizzie Devitt to finish two-three in the 400 individual medley.
Duke rounded out the meet with a second-place finish in the men’s 400 freestyle relay, as Legard, Williams, Tate and St. George came in under the three-minute mark at 2:59.34. The women’s 400 freestyle relay of Hess, junior Hunter Aitchison, sophomore Kylie Jordan and Marsh was third (3:25.50).
“It’s our first meet,” Colella said. “Lots of things to work on, but a lot of great things to build off of. We’re incredibly proud and excited of the way we raced this weekend and just looking forward to an outstanding 2017-18 season.”
The Blue Devil swimmers and divers will compete again next weekend, making the short trip to Raleigh, N.C., to face NC State and Penn State Friday at 5 p.m.
Duke Women 192.5, Florida State Women 160.5
Virginia Tech Women 214, Duke Women 139
Virginia Tech Women 223.5, Florida State Women 129.5
Florida State Men 208, Duke Men 145
Virginia Tech Men 209, Duke Men 144
Virginia Tech Men 194.5, Florida State Men 158.5
Women’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Maddie Hess, Hunter Aitchison, Kylie Jordan, Alyssa Marsh (3rd), 3:25.50
Men’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Yusuke Legard, Miles Williams, Sean Tate, Max St. George (2nd), 2:59.34