GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Duke women qualified 10 swimmers and divers to finals events and toppled five more program records Saturday to close competition at the 2014 ACC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. The Blue Devils placed seventh out of 12 teams in the final standings, totaling 592 points over the three-and-a-half days of action.
Senior Nick McCrory was named the ACC Most Valuable Male Diver for the fourth time in his career, becoming the only four-time winner of the title in the history of the conference.
“This has been one of the most productive and most exciting ACC Championships that we’ve had,” said head coach Dan Colella. “We’re moving on up in terms of getting more people to the championship finals. The future is very bright with the addition of scholarships. Now our focus will be NCAAs in three-and-a-half weeks in Minneapolis.”
After breaking three school records during Saturday morning’s preliminaries, the Blue Devils returned to the pool strong in the final evening session of the meet. Freshman Lindsay Schlichte notched a season-best time of 16:55.92 to finish 15th in the 1,650-yard freestyle and classmate Liza Bragg also placed 15th in the 200 backstroke after surpassing the program record in the event during preliminaries with a 1:57.54 swim.
“This morning’s prelims were probably the best Saturday morning we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Colella said. “Saturday morning is always a challenge. It’s the last morning session and people are tired, but they just did an absolutely terrific job.”
Duke had four swimmers final in the 100 freestyle, with senior Lauren Weaver and freshman Maddie Rusch both clocking 49.75 in the morning heats to break the previous program mark. The finals saw Rusch go even faster, as she clocked 49.59 to earn the record again and come in 14th overall. Weaver touched 16th in 49.97 and sophomores Chelsea Ye (50.44) and Kathryn Eckhart (50.71) each earned personal records while finishing 19th and 22nd, respectively.
In another highlight of the evening, two Blue Devils advanced to the 200 breaststroke championship final, with senior Christine Wixted taking fourth at 2:12.64 and graduate student Emily Barber tapping the wall eighth in 2:14.47. A pair of rookies followed in the consolation final of the 200 butterfly, as Brittany Friese (1:59.89) and Colleen Wixted (2:00.74) placed 13th and 15th in the conference.
The swimmers concluded the night by collecting their fifth program record in as many relay events. Rusch, Weaver, Eckhart and Ye combined for a sixth-place showing in the 400 freestyle relay, posting a time of 3:20.13.
The Blue Devil divers were also impressive, rounding out the meet on the platform. A year after placing seventh in the event, sophomore Jaimee Gundry once again dove her way into the championship final, earning a personal-best award of 283.60 to come in sixth. She finished up her list Saturday evening on a high note, garnering 67.20 points on a back 2 ½ somersault with 1 ½ twists for a 3.2 degree of difficulty.
Appearing in the final ACC Championship event of his collegiate career, McCrory did not disappoint on the platform, his specialty. He led the field with a score of 443.15 in the preliminaries and then edged Miami’s Samuel Dorman in the final, amassing 425.70 points to capture his third career title on the 10-meter. His list included an armstand dive in the first round that netted one 9.5 and five 10s from the judges for an award of 96.00.
With his win on the platform Saturday, McCrory secured a sweep of all three disciplines at the championship for the second consecutive year. He also concluded his final ACC Championship as the most decorated diver in the history of the conference with 10 ACC diving crowns for his career.
“The thing that’s most exciting about Nick is that the more pressure, the better he dives,” Colella said. “He really is one of those one-in-a-million type athletes who thrives under pressure and can do phenomenal things. It’s been an absolute honor having him as a member of this program the past four years. We’re excited to see what happens in the coming weeks both at Zones and NCAAs.”
The Virginia women claimed their seventh-straight ACC title with a final team score of 1,433, while North Carolina finished second (1,205) and Florida State third (972). NC State came in fourth (950) followed by Virginia Tech (914.5), Notre Dame (802), Duke (592), Pittsburgh (474.5), Miami (470.5), Georgia Tech (311.5), Boston College (162) and Clemson (66).
Over the course of the ACC Championship, the Blue Devil women and men’s divers totaled an outstanding 52 personal records, 52 all-time top-10 performances, 29 NCAA ‘B’ cuts, 14 school records, 11 NCAA Zone Diving Championships qualifying marks, nine Summer Nationals cuts, one conference record and one NCAA ‘A’ cut. McCrory was an ACC champion on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards as well as the platform, and was joined in earning All-ACC accolades by Weaver, who took bronze in the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly. The Duke women also made history on the first night of the meet by qualifying a relay to the NCAA Championships, as freshman Jessie Sutherland, Christine Wixted, Rusch and Weaver surpassed the NCAA automatic standard in the 200 medley relay.
School Records Broken During 2014 ACC Championship
|50 Free||Lauren Weaver||22.19|
|100 Free||Maddie Rusch||49.75|
|100 Free||Lauren Weaver||49.75|
|100 Free||Maddie Rusch||49.68|
|200 Free||Christine Wixted||1:49.03|
|200 Back||Liza Bragg||1:57.54|
|100 Fly||Lauren Weaver||53.18|
|400 IM||Liza Bragg||4:18.25|
|200 Free Relay||Weaver, Rusch, Eckhart, Ye||1:30.01|
|400 Free Relay||Rusch, Weaver, Eckhart, Ye||3:20.13|
|800 Free Relay||Ch. Wixted, Friese, Molloy, Bragg||7:19.70|
|200 Medley Relay||Sutherland, Ch. Wixted, Rusch, Weaver||1:37.91|
|400 Medley Relay||Sutherland, Ch. Wixted, Rusch, Weaver||3:37.92|
|3-meter Diving||Nick McCrory||531.00|