DURHAM, N.C. – The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) released its first top 25 poll of the season Wednesday, with the Duke women starting the year as the 22nd-ranked team in the country.
The Blue Devil women were represented among the nation’s top 25 teams after finishing tied for 42nd at the 2017 NCAA Championships. That finish marked the highest for the women’s program since 2011.
Among Duke’s returning NCAA qualifiers are junior diver Jaina Gaudette, who placed 22nd in the platform preliminaries last spring. Seniors Hunter Aitchison and Maddie Hess and junior Alyssa Marsh also return after joining 2018 graduate and honorable mention All-American Leah Goldman on the school record-breaking 400-yard freestyle relay that came in 17th in preliminaries. Junior and butterfly specialist Kylie Jordan rounds out the squad’s group of returning nationals qualifiers.
The Duke women wrapped up the 2017-18 campaign at 4-3 overall and 2-3 against ACC opponents. The Blue Devils earned a sixth-place finish at the 2018 ACC Championships behind Goldman’s individual conference title in the 200 individual medley and her all-conference performance in the 100 butterfly, as well as 2018 graduate MaryEllen Targonski’s top-three finish in platform diving.
Reigning national champion Stanford topped the initial TYR Top 25 poll, followed by California, Michigan, Texas and Texas A&M in the top five. Duke was one of six ACC teams ranked in the season-opening poll, joining No. 8 Louisville, No. 10 Virginia, No. 11 NC State, No. 18 Notre Dame and No. 25 Florida State.
The Blue Devil women and men face Virginia Tech in their season opener Saturday in Christiansburg, Va. Events begin at 11 a.m. at the Hokies’ Christiansburg Aquatic Center.