GREENSBORO, N.C. – Blue Devil swimmers tallied five individual first-place finishes, captured one relay title and set six meet records Saturday, Oct. 5 at the season-opening All-North Carolina Invitational, held at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
Duke participated in just the second day of the two-day meet, totaling 737 points on the women’s side and 677.5 points in the men’s competition to earn a pair of fifth-place finishes in the final team standings.
“This is a unique meet that gets most of the colleges from North Carolina together to compete against one another,” said head coach Dan Colella. “They all had some really fine performances from individuals today. I think as a state, the depth of swimming is just continually improving.”
The Blue Devil women opened Saturday’s morning session on a strong note, as sophomore Chelsea Ye, senior Christine Wixted, freshman Maddie Rusch and senior Lauren Weaver combined for a 1:43.74 clocking to take first and register a meet record in the 200-yard medley relay. On the men’s side, Duke’s ‘A’ squad of freshman Joey Maginnis, senior Hunter Knight, freshman Dylan Payne and freshman James Peek came in third with a time of 1:32.33.
Rusch returned to the pool a short while later to edge the field in the women’s 100 butterfly. The rookie from New Canaan, Conn., posted a mark of 56.08 to win the event and break the previous meet record, while fellow newcomers Kaz Takabayashi (51.36) and Payne (51.39) finished second and third, respectively, in the men’s 100 butterfly.
The 200 freestyle saw another freshman turn in an impressive performance, as Brittany Friese placed second at 1:52.06. Two veteran swimmers and All-ACC performers followed with a pair of first-place finishes in the 100 breaststroke, picking up right where they left off at the end of the 2012-13 season. Christine Wixted, the invitational record-holder in the event, collected her first individual win of the year in a 1:04.03 swim, surpassing her previous record of 1:05.21. Graduate student Emily Barber touched at 1:06.14 to take fourth, and senior Hunter Knight registered the top time on the men’s side with a 56.05 showing to break his own All-North Carolina Invitational record.
Ye finished third in the women’s 100 backstroke (57.30) and Schlichte fifth in the 1,650 freestyle (17:30.50) before the mid-day intermission.
Rusch continued to make a strong statement in her collegiate debut Saturday evening, winning the women’s 100 freestyle with an invitational record of 51.40. Peek was the top finisher on the men’s side, clocking 46.93 to come in sixth.
Christine Wixted completed her sweep of the breaststroke events, coming back to win the event at the 200-yard distance while also besting her own invitational record with a 2:19.75 performance. Hunter Knight was second in the men’s field at 2:02.64.
In the final heats of the evening, the women’s 400 freestyle relay team of sophomore Linsay Cooper, Rusch, senior Kelly Hagerty and Friese notched a mark of 3:29.43 to finish third. Freshmen Peek, Mike Seaberg, Bradley Cline and Jack Carey paced the Duke men with a sixth-place showing at 3:09.13.
“We saw some good things happen today, some things that showed us that we’re probably ahead of where we were at this point last year,” Colella said. “I think everybody’s been real supportive of one another in the early weeks … There were some fine performances out of a number of people for this early in the season but there’s definitely a lot of things that need to refined and worked on in the coming months.”
Following this weekend’s early season action, the Blue Devils will continue their training regimen before traveling to Wilmington, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 26 to face UNC Wilmington in a dual meet.