CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Duke swimming and diving teams turned in historic performances at North Carolina’s Koury Natatorium Saturday, with the women defeating the Tar Heels for the first time in program history and the men for the first time since 1939.
The Blue Devil men earned a 173-126 victory over their Tobacco Road rivals to move to 6-2 overall and 1-2 against ACC competition, while the 22nd-ranked women downed North Carolina by a 163-137 margin to improve to 6-2 on the season and 2-2 in league action.
“Outstanding,” said head coach Dan Colella. “We couldn’t be more proud. Four years ago when we recruited these seniors, we talked about being a team that could contend in the ACC and beat the likes of a UNC. [North Carolina is] coming off a big meet last night against NC State and they raced really hard today … We’re excited, especially for our seniors, to finish up their dual meet career here at Duke with a win over UNC.”
The Blue Devils jumped out to a quick start with victories in both 200-yard medley relays. The women’s quartet of sophomore Maddie Hess, senior Ashleigh Shanley, freshman Alyssa Marsh and senior Maddie Rusch clocked the fifth-fastest mark in program history at 1:39.62, and senior Kaz Takabayashi, senior Peter Kropp, senior Michael Miller and sophomore Yusuke Legard earned a win for the men (1:28.34).
Duke’s distance swimmers followed suit, with junior Verity Abel posting a season-best 1,000 freestyle mark of 9:56.56 in a first-place showing. Freshman Roger Kriegl led the way for the men in third, racing to fifth on the program’s all-time performance list at 9:21.66. Junior Leah Goldman then added a win in the women’s 200 freestyle (1:49.81) while sophomore Hunter Aitchison (1:51.50) was third.
North Carolina claimed the top spots in the men’s 200 freestyle and women’s 100 backstroke before the Blue Devils countered with three straight victories in the pool. Sophomore Max St. George keyed the first of his two individual wins on the day by taking the men’s 100 backstroke (48.33) while Shanley (1:02.90) and senior Dylan Payne (54.20) turned in top times in the 100 breaststroke events. Payne and Kropp (54.62) both came in under the NCAA provisional standard in the event, with Kropp finishing third.
The women displayed their depth in the 200 butterfly, led by senior Brittany Friese in second (2:00.08). Junior Isabella Paez (2:01.39) and freshman Kylie Jordan (2:01.79) were third and fourth, respectively, while Miller won the men’s race at 1:48.09. Duke added points with a Michael Seaberg win in the men’s 50 freestyle (20.50) and a two-three performance on the women’s side to lead both meet scores heading into the first break.
The Blue Devil men featured a couple of career-best performances in the 1-meter springboard competition, as sophomore Evan Moretti garnered the second-highest award all-time at Duke (380.85) in a first-place finish and freshman Nathaniel Hernandez turned in the seventh-highest score in program history (353.65) to take second. Senior Kirby Quinn paced the women on the 3-meter board with a season-best award of 327.75.
Legard (45.43) and freshman Miles Williams (45.45) led the way in first and second in the men’s 100 freestyle and Hess (1:59.67) headlined a two-three-four showing by Duke in the women’s 200 backstroke. St. George completed his sweep of the men’s backstroke events in the 200-yard event, recording a time of 1:46.65. Junior Alex Peña touched in a season-best 1:48.39 for third.
Tar Heel swimmers were first to the wall in both 200 breaststroke events but the Blue Devils answered with an emphatic showing in the women’s 500 freestyle. Abel cruised to her second win (4:53.62), followed by Friese in second (4:57.17) and freshman Brittany Kampfer in fourth (5:00.28). Duke went two-four and two-three-four in the women’s and men’s 100 butterfly races to maintain the advantage over North Carolina entering the final intermission.
The men’s 3-meter diving event provided another highlight for the Blue Devils, as Hernandez placed first at 399.30 and Moretti second at 386.77. Both divers’ scores moved them up on the program’s all-time performance list. Quinn once again led the women’s divers in the 1-meter competition, taking third (286.13).
“Today was really a lot of fun,” said head diving coach Nunzio Esposto. “The work that we’ve done this year, the drills, the work that we do on their takeoffs and all of those things we do pertaining to their technique really showed themselves today. I was really proud of all the divers. On both the men’s and women’s side they did a great job.”
Goldman netted her second individual win in the women’s 200 IM (2:01.63) with junior Lizzie Devitt closing strong for third (2:04.07). Duke then swept the 400 freestyle relays to secure the dual meet victories. Hess, Rusch, Aitchison and Marsh out-touched the Tar Heels at the wall while clocking the fifth-fastest mark in school history at 3:21.31. Sophomore Sean Tate, Miller, Williams and Legard closed out the meet with a winning time of 3:00.29.
“We knew it was going to be a huge team effort,” Colella said. “It wasn’t just about a select few. It wasn’t just about winning events but about the seconds, third, fourths, fifths. The fifth places in some of those swims people had – Lindsay Schlichte, Sheldon Boboff, there were a number of people that closed incredibly well to put their hand on the wall before a Tar Heel. And that’s what it’s all about.”
With the dual meet portion of the season in the books, the Blue Devils return to competition next weekend at the Janis Hape Dowd Nike Cup Invitational in Chapel Hill and Durham.
Duke Women 163, North Carolina Women 137
Duke Men 173, North Carolina Men 126
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
Women’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Maddie Hess, Ashleigh Shanley, Alyssa Marsh, Maddie Rusch (1st), 1:39.62
Men’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Kaz Takabayashi, Peter Kropp, Michael Miller, Yusuke Legard (1st), 1:28.34
Women’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Maddie Hess, Maddie Rusch, Hunter Aitchison, Alyssa Marsh (1st), 3:21.31
Men’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Sean Tate, Michael Miller, Miles Williams, Yusuke Legard (1st), 3:00.29